Xiaomi beat Samsung to become smartphone market leader in the fourth quarter of 2017, says IDC in its quarterly mobile phone tracker out today. The research firm states that India’s smartphone market saw a healthy growth of 14 percent in annual smartphone shipments.
According to IDC, India’s smartphone shipments hit 124 million units in 2017, making it the fastest growing smartphone market amongst the top 20 smartphone markets globally. It adds that the market resumed its double-digit growth after a brief slowdown caused by demonetization and supply shortage in 2016. The growth in smartphone shipments in India is in contrast to that China, which recorded its first decline this year and USA which remains flat year-over-year.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, the Indian smartphone market actually saw a sharp decline of 22 percent in shipments over the previous quarter, which saw festive momentum. However, the quarter saw shipments jump by 18 percent over same period last year, which was impacted by demonetization.
In terms of vendors, the Chinese smartphone makers continue to rule the Indian smartphone market with a share of 53 percent, up from 34 percent a year ago. Xiaomi was the leading smartphone brand in the fourth quarter with 26.8 percent market share while Samsung dropped to second with a market share of 24.2 percent.
IDC notes that Xiaomi’s shipments tripled year-over-year and it sold more than 2 million units via offline channels. Samsung, on the other hand, faces challenges with the aggressive pricing of competitors like Xiaomi. It also adds that the channel trust on Samsung remains strong and its distribution strength remains one of the strongest among all smartphone makers.
Xiaomi and Samsung were followed by Vivo, Lenovo and Oppo to round the top five list. Vivo took the third spot with market share of 6.5 percent, which is an improvement from dropping to fourth place last quarter. Its shipments, however, were down 41 percent from the previous quarter and the company is now trying to be omnipresent by participating in sales held by Amazon and Flipkart.
Lenovo slipped to the fourth position with a market share of 5.6 percent while Oppo maintains its fifth place with a share of 4.9 percent. Oppo saw the worst decline in shipments with IDC estimating its shipments to have dropped by 50 percent over the previous quarter.
While Samsung may have lost to Xiaomi in the fourth quarter, its shipments in 2017 remained strong with the South Korean company shipping 24.7 percent of all devices last year. Xiaomi was second with 20.9 percent share while Vivo, Lenovo and Oppo rounded the top five list.
In the feature phone segment, Reliance Industries became the leader in the fourth quarter by shipping millions of 4G-enabled JioPhone. The entry of JioPhone led to a jump in feature phone shipments from 140 million a year ago to 164 million in 2017. The category registered a 67 percent year-over-year growth and 33 percent growth over previous quarter. While India remains the third largest smartphone market, the consumption for feature phones remains strong in the country.
“The untapped demand in the lower-tier cities remains the key attraction for China-based brands to explore the growth trajectory in India. Their strength in their home market of China and weakening position of local players has helped some of these China-based players to solidify their operations in India,” says Jaipal Singh, Senior Market Analyst, IDC India.
IDC forecasts that low smartphone penetration remains a major opportunity for all device vendors and smartphones will serve as the first platform for many as they get hooked on to data for the first time. “The smartphone makers are now making serious attempts to address the problem of affordability in India with the introduction of more affordable products, resulting in initiatives such as Android Oreo (Go edition), telco bundling low-cost cost 4G smartphones and even the 4G feature phone JioPhone,” Singh added. The research firm expects the Indian smartphone market to continue double-digit growth for next couple of years.