Chinese brands control two-thirds of India’s smartphone market

Xiaomi’s shipments dropped, but smaller players soared.

Chinese smartphone companies held 66% of the Indian market in the first quarter of 2019, driven by a surge in popularity for such brands as Vivo, RealMe, and Oppo, according to new report by Hong Kong-based analysis firm Counterpoint Research.

By the end of March, Vivo’s shipments in India increased 119% year-on year, while Oppo’s increased 28% in the same period, as total smartphone shipment volumes rose 20% across a 12-month period. Vivo’s impressive sales are attributed to its portfolio of mid-tier smartphones and an aggressive marketing campaign with the Indian Premier League.

Xiaomi, meanwhile, continues to lead the market, though its market share dropped 2%, followed by Samsung. As of the fourth quarter of 2018, market research company IDC pegged Xiaomi’s market share at 28.9%, with Samsung at 18.7%, then Vivo at 9.7%.

As data consumption rises in India and local consumers seek out more complete mobile experiences, mid-tier smartphones priced between USD 100 and 180 (RMB 674 to 1078) that have higher specs are becoming increasingly popular.

India is the world’s fastest-growing smartphone market according to research reports. Last year, 145 million smartphone units were shipped in India, a 10% year-on-year increase, per Counterpoint. This is in stark contrast to global trends—including in the US and China—where shipments are in decline.

Affordable pricing, selfie cameras, and big screens are named as selling points that have helped popularize Chinese brands, while the growth of video streaming services such as Netflix and homegrown platform Hotstar, as well as heavy usage of messaging apps like WhatsApp, are cited as factors driving market demand.

Counterpoint expects a more competitive mid-tier smartphone segment in India in coming quarters.

This would explain the push by global smartphone manufacturers to invest in the country. Xiaomi plunged USD 500 million (RMB 3.37 billion) into its Indian unit this year, while Apple is also in the midst of shifting iPhone production to the country.