Chinese brand Xiaomi enjoyed its highest shipments in a quarter in India, with 27% of market share in the third quarter of 2018, a big rise from its 22% share in the corresponding quarter a year ago. Counterpoint said this was driven by its new Redmi 6 phones and expansion of sales in offline channels.
Xiaomi also launched a sub-brand, Pocophone, which experienced strong initial shipments.
Following some distance behind was South Korean titan Samsung with 23% market share in Q3 2018, the same as it enjoyed in Q3 2017. Its J series drove shipments and also enjoyed success in the sub-US$100 market through its Android Go edition, the Galaxy J2 core.
Vivo's success was due to refreshing its V series with the V11 and the V11 Pro, which included features like in-display fingerprint sensors, fast-charging and better cameras.
Indian firm Micromax returned to the top five after two years. Along with local MVNO Reliance Jio, the company has won a contract from the state of Chhattisgarh to supply five million devices for women and students. OPPO's figures were bolstered by its new product lines, mostly the F9 series.
The remaining 23% of market share in Q3 2018 was taken up by other brands who had held 33% of the market in Q3 2017.
Other highlights of the research:
- Transsion Group, led by the itel, Tecno, Infinix brands continued to grow in the smartphone segment in India. Infinix grew 65% YoY as it expanded its product portfolio in online channels to take ground in the sub-$150 segment. Tecno shipments also doubled YoY driven by the Camon series.
- Other brands that did well during the quarter included, Realme, Honor, Asus, and Nokia HMD.
- Realme became the first ever smartphone brand to hit one million shipments within five months of launch across online channels. Realme 2 was the most popular model as users found the build quality (diamond design) and features (battery life) of the device attractive enough to drive upgrades in the sub-$150 segment.
- Honor shipments were driven by Honor 7A and Honor 9N. The breadth of its portfolio in India has increased in the past year.
- Asus Zenfone Max Pro drove the shipments for Asus as it was one of the popular devices with 6GB RAM in the sub-$200 segment.
- OnePlus 6 shipments in the premium segment remained strong as it launched multiple offers during the quarter. This helped the brand to retain its number one spot in premium smartphone market.
- Nokia HMD refreshed its portfolio with the launch of 6.1 and 5.1 Plus, both of which started well. Nokia pivoted to a new design language for the launches, which was received positively by its target audience.
Commenting on the figures, Counterpoint research analyst Anshika Jain said: “Even though the quarter started modestly, smartphone shipments picked up and reached an all-time record due to strong sell-in by brands in August and September. Key brands kicked-off their festive campaigns early this year by launching new models as early as August. This has given them ample time to prepare and align with festive season sales across online channels that started from early October.
“The record shipments happened at a time when the Indian rupee hit a record low against the US dollar. This is already impacting supply chains and product planning for the brands. Any inventory accumulation after the festive season will put brands under pressure as they may need to pass on the resulting price rises to consumers. Hence, this festive season is not only crucial for brands to target new customers but also navigate the external headwinds," she added.
Regarding the brand performance, research analyst Karn Chauhan said: “India’s shipments surpassed those of the US during the quarter, the second time this has occurred. India is already the second largest smartphone market in the world after China; it exceeded 400 million smartphone users in June.
"Nevertheless, the market is under-penetrated relative to many other markets. As a result, top brands are expanding their reach in the country in a bid to acquire more customers and sustain growth. The success of new brands, like Realme, highlights the fact that the market still offers growth opportunities to new players if they have the right mix of market-entry strategies.”
Chauhan added, “Four of the top five brands recorded their highest ever shipments in a single quarter. The volume growth happened in the mid-tier due to the consumers steadily migrating toward higher price points. The US$150 to US$250 segment contributed to almost a third of the volume during the quarter as many new products are launching at this level.”
Counterpoint's research is based on sell-in (shipments) estimates based on vendor’s IR results, vendor polling triangulated with sell-through (sales), supply chain checks and secondary research.