Feature phones are not going to go out without a fight in a world dominated by smartphones. According to Counterpoint Research, feature phone grew for the fourth consecutive quarter, and it is in contrast with that of smartphones, which have been experiencing negative growth. Also Read - Jio-Google partnership: From JioPhone Next to new 5G collaboration and moreAlso Read - Jio 5G launch livestream: How to watch JioPhone 5G, JioBook launch event online
In the third quarter of 2018, the feature phone shipments accounted for 23 percent of total handset shipments. Counterpoint Research notes that the industry still contributes a sizeable market share. One of the important observations from this report is that the shipment for feature phones grew most in Middle East and Africa (MEA). This is partially because of slowdown in shipments of JioPhone from Reliance Jio in India. Also Read - Jio 5G rollout today? No, you will need to wait longer to experience 5G in India
During the third quarter, the shipments in MEA grew at a rate of 32 percent, and thus emerged as the largest feature phone market. Both Middle East and Africa (MEA) and India now have 36 percent market share in the feature phone segment and are followed by Rest of Asia with 18 percent market share. The list is rounded by Central and Latin America, Europe and North America.
In terms of individual companies, iTel, a sub-brand of Transsion Holdings and HMD Global, the Finnish company with license to Nokia brand, lead with a market share of 14 percent respectively. They are followed by Reliance Jio, which has a global market share of 11 percent. Samsung and Tecno took the fourth and fifth spot with a market share of 8 percent and 6 percent respectively.
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Counterpoint says the feature phone sale is mainly driven by demand for a device with superior battery life in markets where infrastructure facilities like electricity are not accessible. The report also notes that feature phones will remain relevant for at least next five years due to the under representation of smartphones in emerging markets. Another boost for feature phone sales has been upgrade to 4G network and support for applications like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube. Feature phones are said to get features earlier limited to smartphones in a way to attract more consumers in emerging markets.