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Smartphone market hits record shipments in Q1 2021; second wave threatens to dampen demand in coming quarters

Counterpoint Research said India’s smartphone shipments grew 23% year on year to more than 38 million units in Q1 2021, the highest ever first quarter shipments. New product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as pent-up demand coming from 2020, drove the market in Q1 2021.

“But these numbers should be taken with caution as a second and more virulent wave of Covid-19 is currently on in the country and is likely to impact the coming quarters. The consumer demand will take a hit due to the ongoing Covid-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns,” Counterpoint Research senior research analyst Prachir Singh said.

As the second wave of Covid infections derails normal life in India, the domestic smartphone market could see weaker sales after the robust numbers seen in the last three quarters. Analysts expect the second surge in infections to adversely impact consumer demand in the coming quarters.

Counterpoint Research said India’s smartphone shipments grew 23% year on year to more than 38 million units in Q1 2021, the highest ever first quarter shipments. New product launches, promotions and financial schemes, as well as pent-up demand coming from 2020, drove the market in Q1 2021.

“But these numbers should be taken with caution as a second and more virulent wave of Covid-19 is currently on in the country and is likely to impact the coming quarters. The consumer demand will take a hit due to the ongoing Covid-19 wave and subsequent lockdowns,” Counterpoint Research senior research analyst Prachir Singh said.

Analysts and economists have said the second and more lethal wave of the pandemic has already started to impact the movement of people and goods. Many fear that the rapidly rising cases load could severely impact India’s economic recovery, which would have an impact on consumer sentiment.

As of March 2021, Chinese smartphone vendors controlled 75% of the smartphone market in India. “Xiaomi led the market with a 26% share, followed by Samsung, Vivo, Realme and Oppo. Xiaomi has recently expanded its manufacturing capabilities with new EMS partners, which helped the brand maintain strong shipments during the quarter,” Counterpoint Research analyst, Shilpi Jain.

All major brands are focusing on new product launches to drive consumer demand. Samsung maintained a high number of new product launches in its Galaxy M-series, Galaxy F-series and Galaxy S21 series during Q1 2021. Realme launched its 8 series, OnePlus announced its 9 series and Xiaomi launched its Redmi Note 10 series. Brands are also focusing on promotions and financial schemes to increase consumer demand, she said.

The feature phone market registered a 14% year-on-year growth during the quarter driven by strong shipments of JioPhone under its new model and subsequent promotions. However, itel led the feature phone market in Q1 2021 with a 21% market share.

Apple continued its momentum from Q4 2020. The company maintained its leading position in the premium segment (>`30,000) with almost 48% share. Strong demand for iPhone 11 coupled with aggressive offers on the iPhone SE 2020 and expansion in ‘Make in India’ capabilities are the driving factors in this growth. Apple also registered more than one million shipments for two consecutive quarters for the first time.

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