After the surge, comes the lull. After recording three-digit shipment growth figures in the little over four years that Xiaomi has been around, the fourth-largest smartphone maker reported just a 34% growth in the first half of 2015 over the same period in 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The slowdown is a strong hint of China, the company’s home market, getting increasingly saturated with smartphones—the country accounts for a third of the 1.3 billion smartphones in the world. Xiaomi and compatriots as well as foreign smartphone-makers had become “steadily dependent” on China’s appetite. Poor offtake in China, also influenced by the slowing down of its economy, could pull down global smartphone shipments’ growth by 18 percentage points this year, to 10%, research firm IDC reckons.
For Xiaomi, which has just expanded its Indian presence, and other smartphone makers, India may offer some succour for now. Market research firm Strategy Analytic tips it to become the second-largest smartphone market by 2017. At present, India has nearly 120 million smartphones while there are over 900 million mobile subscriptions—that leaves a huge room for growth, especially given the country’s broadband infrastructure is a laggard. While forecasters believe smartphone penetration will accelerate in the country in the next few years, key to this would be a robust data services infrastructure. Smartphone makers must be hoping India gets this right—after all, its own digitalisation goals too could depend on it.