Research firm Canalys reports that Xiaomi has seen its annual shipments grow by 155% in India, taking the lead in a smartphone market that is growing yet rapidly consolidating.
The Chinese vendor shipped over 9 million units, giving it a market share of just over 31% - the highest ever for a vendor since Q1 2014, when Samsung had a share of 33%. Xiaomi also continued to widen the gap between itself and Samsung; the Korean vendor shipped just under 7.5 million smartphones, growing by 24% on last year. Oppo took third place with 2.8 million shipments, and Vivo fourth with 2.1 million shipments. Overall, the smartphone market in India grew at 8% to 29.5 million units for the quarter.
“Xiaomi is becoming a force to be reckoned with in India,” said Canalys Research Analyst Ishan Dutt. “Apart from being some of the best value devices on the market, Xiaomi’s smartphones are now available in more places and in larger quantities. All in all, Xiaomi’s product and channel strategies are working.”
The Chinese firm’s recently launched Redmi 5, Redmi 5 Plus and Redmi 5A have seen runaway success, with the Redmi 5A reaching record sales of 3.5 million in the quarter. In comparison, Samsung’s best-selling device, the J7 Nxt, shipped just 1.5 million units.
“Xiaomi is now bringing this cost disruption to TVs, another consumer market that is dominated by heavyweights, such as Samsung, Sony and LG. The move will add much needed equity to its brand and will positively affect its longevity in the market.”
The market also continues to consolidate, with smaller vendors finding it extremely difficult to succeed in the face of Xiaomi’s growing prominence. The top four vendors accounted for about 75% of all smartphone shipments to India, with Xiaomi and Samsung accounting for 56%.
“India remains a huge investment for any smartphone brand,” said Canalys Research Manager Rushabh Doshi. “For smaller vendors, such as Gionee and Lenovo, the pressure on profitability has forced them to relook at their Indian strategies.” Lenovo’s smartphone shipments were just short of a million units, falling by more than 60% year on year, while Gionee shipped an all-time low of 150,000 units with shipments down 90% year on year. “Local production, offline channel expansion, and huge advertising and marketing costs are weighing down the smartphone vendors. And India’s inability to move quickly to a high-value market has only hurt them further.”
“The ongoing consolidation is also not good for the channel,” added Doshi. “India’s massive independent retail channel has always relied on intense competition to negotiate higher margins and marketing funds. But these funds and margins are vanishing as the competition continues to wane. Adding to this dilemma are online retailers, such as Flipkart and Amazon, which remain committed to increasing their share in the smartphone channel. All in all, 2018 will be a trying year for smartphone retailers in India.”