Findings quoted in the Indian press from market research companies IDC and Counterpoint Research indicate that India is facing its first-ever year of decline in smartphone sales; a drop of 13-15 percent is expected.
Of course, the coronavirus is partly to blame for this. While demand for mobile services has gone up, job and salary cuts have meant that many consumers are hanging on to their existing phones for now. A recent increase in goods and services tax on smartphones probably hasn’t helped either.
These are, in fact, revised outlooks. IDC’s earlier estimate of 140 million sales is now closer to 130 million handsets. Counterpoint has adjusted its numbers from 142 million to 137 million. Last year, India sold around 154-158 million smartphones.
Feature phone sales won’t necessarily compensate: a 42 percent sales decline (from 130 million handsets sold last year to around 75 million) is expected by IDC. The October-to-December festive months may boost sales, but cash-strapped consumers may prefer to wait.
Coronavirus is a global phenomenon, of course. Gartner has already signalled that global sales of smartphones to end users declined 20.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2020 – the global smartphone market’s worst decline ever.
What next? Well, potentially a lot of new business for the refurbished and pre-owned devices market – and India is no exception. The Indian refurbished market is nevertheless expected to decline, but only slightly, in the short term, with growth expected towards the end of the year.
The major challenge for the second-hand market for the moment is guaranteeing a supply of smartphone parts from China. This, reports suggest, could get back to normal in five to six weeks.