Smartphones Make it Big!
A 172-percent leap in shipments pushed smartphones’ share from under seven percent in 2012 to over 16 percent in 2013.
The year 2013 marked a decisive acceleration towards the smartphone adoption in the India mobile phones market. While the feature phones segment saw a marginal decline at -0.2 percent—from a shipment of 206.5 million in 2012 to 206.1 million in 2013—the smartphone market grew a whopping 172.2 percent.
Smartphone shipments in 2013 rose to 41.1 million from 15.1 million in 2012. This amounted to the share of smartphone shipments rising from 6.8 percent in 2012 to 16.6 percent in 2013. It was also the first year ever when smartphones clocked a double-digit share of the overall mobile phone shipments.
Samsung continued to be the market leader for the smartphone segment, followed by Micromax, and Karbonn. However, Nokia still managed to stay put in the leadership position for the overall mobile phones market with 18.9 percent market share in shipment terms. It also continued to reign the feature phones market segment. Samsung was No. 2 with 13.8 percent shipment share while Micromax took the No. 3 spot with 10.3 percent share of the overall mobile phones shipment in 2013.
Also, 65.8 percent of the total smartphones shipped in the country were 3G smartphones during 2013.
Key Developments in 2013
A key reason behind the rapid development of the India smartphones market in 2013 was its penetration into lower price segments. Particularly, the homegrown smartphone vendors like Micromax, Karbonn and Lava consistently helped lower the entry price points for smartphones, launching scores of models in not just the sub-Rs 5,000 price segment but also in the sub-Rs 4,000 and under-Rs 3,000
price categories. It goes without saying that virtually all of these devices were on the Android platform.
Since these price segments, which were mostly considered the feature phone bastions, comprised a large chunk of the shipments, offering smartphones in these price segments quickly gave a market share to smartphones that would have otherwise been hard to achieve.
A significant development in 2013 that laid the foundation for increased competition in the smartphone market was Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices division. It ensured that Nokia’s Lumia devices in particular would have the financial backing of one of the most cash-rich technology giants globally, one which was determined to make its Windows platform a success in the smallscreen segment this time around.
From a mobile OS development perspective, two important global events in 2013 that bore significance for the further development of smartphone ecosystem in India were the launch of the KitKat version of the Android mobile OS platform and even more notably, the launch of the Firefox mobile operating system.
Apple’s iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were among the most awaited models, with
India brands became stronger in this fiscal eating up the share of Tier 1 brands like Nokia and Samsung
Apple launching two models in one go the first time ever. Also, 5s became the first smartphone in India to carry a pricing of more than Rs 50,000 for the entry model. Samsung Galaxy Note 3, HTC One, Google Nexus 5, Moto X and Nokia 1020 also made big splashes.
The most notable launch from Samsung was that of a much awaited Galaxy Note 3, which also grabbed much attention due to the accompanying launch of its smart watch Galaxy Gear. However, as it turned out later, the smart watch failed to enthuse the market, partly because it had a price tag on the higher side but also because the wearable device didn’t offer functionalities that would be compelling enough for the users.
Nokia launched a number of Lumia models in 2013. These included Lumia 520 and Lumia 720 in the second quarter, and the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 as well as the phablet device Lumia 1520 in the last quarter of October-December. With these launches, combined with the previous Lumia models, Nokia was able to cover a much wider range of price segments, the result of which started showing in terms of a positive build-up in its market share.
The smartphone market in India is poised to accelerate further, cannibalizing the feature phones segment in the process. And if the 2014 first quarter numbers are any indication then the process has already kick-started.
A CyberMedia Research study showed that smartphone shipments recorded a jump of 219.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014. A total of 14.5 million smartphones were shipped out of a total of 58.9 million mobile phone units overall. This amounted to smartphone shipments grabbing a 24.6 percent market share of the mobile phone shipments.
Not surprisingly, the feature phones saw a steeper negative decline of -6.5 percent over the year-ago quarter and clocked total shipment of 44.4 million units.
Going forward, it is expected that the entry of Firefox-based smartphones would further expand the market in the lower price segments. Already, Indian brands including Intex and Spice have announced their Firefox-based smartphones in the sub-Rs 2,000 price segments. This has the potential to open up a whole new category of ultra-budget market segment. An Intex release earlier said its Firefox-based smartphone Cloud FX would be targeted at first-time smartphone users in tier 2 cities and rural areas and is expected to hit the market in first week of August.
However, while the market is seeing volume growth in the middle and budget segments, it also has shown a good appetite for uptake in the premium and ultra-premium segments as well.