The Chinese dragon is set to tighten its grip on the fast-growing Indian mobile phone market with two new smartphone brands, Comio and Infinix , set to make their debut in the coming days.
Comio from China's Topwise Communications will launch a smartphone on August 18, while the first smartphones from Hong Kong-based Infinix are being teased on Flipkart. As the influx of Chinese brands together captured a dominant 51 per cent of the Indian smartphone market, the share of Indian brands has more than halved to around 15 per cent over a year-and-a half, according to data from Counterpoint and ICD.
Chinese phone maker Xiaomi has the second largest pie of the market share in April-June quarter of 2017 with 15.5 per cent. Others in the top five bracket are Vivo with 12.7 per cent, Oppo with 9.6 per cent and Lenovo with 6.8 per cent, according to Counterpoint Research.
Chinese brand Gionee, which has been trying to break into the top five league, claimed they have amassed a 1.25 crore base over five years. "In India, we operate, make and sell products in the price band of Rs 8,000- Rs 25,000, a segment that is experiencing maximum growth over the years," said Gionee India director (business intelligence & planning) Alok Shrivastava. He claimed their recently launched A1 Plus clocked 74,682 pre-orders worth Rs 150 crore in 10 days. The brand owns nearly six per cent of the market share, he added.
ICD senior market analyst Jaipal Singh said, "Indian vendors' response to 4G technology has been very slow. Even when Reliance came with 4G, Indian brands had a very heavy 3G portfolio. Chinese models have been quick with adopting the technology from the beginning." Also, Chinese brands like Oppo and Vivo have a lot of cash to spend on marketing and distribution, which Indian brands don't, he explained. "The third factor is the product itself. China's background in manufacturing gives their brands an edge in working with huge volumes. So, they are able to offer devices at competitive prices with effective quality," said Singh.
Gionee's Shrivastava said they have designed their phones focusing on the selfie camera feature and long battery lives. These are the needs of the Indian customer today, he summed up. The brand is planning to set up an assembling unit in Faridabad with a capacity of 30 million units. Singh says the sheer size of India offers a huge opportunity for foreign brands. Of the 1.2 billion population, only 300 million Indians are estimated to own smartphones. However, the country is expected to become the second largest smartphone market by the end of 2017.
"China's domestic market, on the other hand, is saturated as 90 per cent of their population already owns smartphones," says Singh. Every vendor wants to be here, he adds. Optiemus Infracom, the brand that will sell and distribute Canada's BlackBerry devices, is set to launch a new smartphone on August 1. HMD Global will also launch an Android-based Nokia smartphone on August 16, pivoting from the brand's Windows-based phones.
Korean brand Samsung is still India's top selling brand. However, its market share fell to 24.1 per cent in the June quarter of 2017 compared to 25.6 per cent year-on-year, according to Counterpoint.