Local Handset Cos Fight for Survival amid Chinese Blitz
New Delhi: Indian handset vendors are staring at a battle for survival in the face of a Chinese onslaught, having been pushed out of the top five in smartphones even as migration to this category slows down, technology research firm IDC said. Homebred players such as Lava, Karbonn, Intex and Micromax, which have been dominating the feature phone segment, now face challenges in that segment too from Chinese players.
In the smartphone market, the share of China-based vendors touched a whopping 46% in the past quarter, with their shipments doubling from the same period last year. The share of homegrown vendors, meanwhile, slipped to 19%.
“This is the first time when none of the homegrown vendors were able to make their position in the top five,” said Jaipal Singh, market analyst for client devices at IDC India, attributing the loss to vendors’ decision of sticking with a 3Gheavy portfolio and prioritising the price game over product experience.
In the quarter ended December 2016, Samsung’s market share fell by 13.1%, but the Korean giant continued to lead the smartphone market at 25.1%. Xiaomi ended the quarter with a 10.7% share, followed by Lenovo-Motorola at 9.9%, Oppo at 8.6% and Vivo at 7.6%.
Trouble for local players is going to aggravate further as China-based vendors have now entered the high volume feature phone market. China's Transsion Group, which entered the Indian market in the April-June quarter last year with Itel brand, became the No 2 player behind Samsung with a 7.5% share in the overall mobile phone market, with aggressive shipments of feature phones in the fourth quarter. Intex, Lava and Micromax took the No 3, 4 and 5 positions for overall handsets in the quarter ended December 2016, with 7.1%, 7% and 5.8% shares, respectively, but each lost more than 40% their share on quarter. “The feature phone segment is likely to contribute the majority of mobile phone shipments in 2017; the migration to smartphones is expected to further slow down due to the introduction of low-cost 4G feature phones and its continued relevance to its sizeable target consumer,” said Navkendar Singh, senior research manager for client devices at IDC India. Smartphone shipments in the quarter ended December 2016 were flat on year at 25.8 million units, but declined 20.3% the previous quarter. The firm attributed this mainly to a seasonal decline after an all-time high festival quarter and the impact of demonetisation in November.
In 2017, replacement demand would drive most of the smartphone shipments, IDC said. The tough-year predictions follow a marginal 5.2% expansion in 2016, during which109.1million smartphones were shipped.
Feature phones remain the dominant category in the total mobile phone market, with annual shipments of 136.1 million units. The category declined by 9.4% in 2016, slower than the previous year’s 16.2% fall.
“Feature phone to smartphone migration has slowed down as prices of smartphones are still quite high for a feature phone user. Also, ease of use, long battery life and durability of feature phones continue to be relevant for a large numbers of users of this category,” said Karthik J, senior market analyst of client devices.
Homebred players like Lava, Karbonn, Intex and Micromax now face challenges in the feature phones segment, too
FILE PHOTO Chinese cos have snatched a huge market share from Indian rivals