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Chinese smartphone brands reap benefits of growth in India

Chinese smartphone brands reap benefits of growth in India

The Indian smartphone market grew by nearly 20% in Q4 of 2018, with data from IDC showing that Chinese vendors were the main beneficiaries.

The final quarter saw 36.3 million smart devices shipped in India, a year-on-year rise of 19.4%. The top spot was taken by Xiaomi, which shipped 10.5 million devices in the quarter compared to 8.1 million for the same period in the previous year. It increased its market share from 26.8% to 28.9%.

Samsung held on to second place, although it sold fewer units overall (6.8 million, down from 7.3 million in Q4 2017) and its market share declined from 24.2% to 18.7%. Vivo maintained its position in third, shipping 1.5 million more units than the 2 million it sold in Q4 2017, taking its market share to 9.7%.

Despite having only started operating in May 2018, Chinese newcomer Realme sold enough units to overtake Oppo, shifting 2.7 million devices in the quarter to take fourth place. Oppo itself was only just in fifth with 2.6 million devices, up from 1.5 million in Q4 2017.

IDC noted that for the full year, 142.3 million smart devices were sold – up 14.5%. Across the sector, the average device price was $158 – the same as in the previous year. The $100-$200 price bracket constituted more than 50% of the market, while the premium ($500+) bracket saw year-on-year growth of 43.9%, despite constituting just 3% of the total market.

India saw its highest ever proportion (38.4%) of online sales during 2018, with IDC India associate research manager Upasana Joshi noting that this was “primarily driven by several rounds of discounts by e-tailers driving affordability through various financing options, cashback offers and buyback schemes”.

Competing with the steep discounts that online retailers are able to provide has proven challenging for offline channels, which saw growth of a slight 6.7%. However, Joshi noted that it “remains the largest channel for mobile phone distribution in India and is crucial for the long-term success for any brand in India”.

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