The Indian Mobile Landscape In the First Half of 2016

Even as the global smartphone industry is seeing a slowdown, India continues to grow at double digit rates. Alongside the U.S. and China, the country is already one of the three largest markets for mobile phones in the world, and the fast rate of growth has attracted a whole host of companies from around the world to Indian shores over the past couple of years. Indian tech site, 91 Mobiles, has now published a detailed study regarding the mobile phone landscape in the country. According to the report, these new companies, mostly from mainland China, are creating quite a niche for themselves in the country’s smartphone scene even as Samsung continues its dominance in most segments of the market. Android, of course, accounts for 97% of the Indian smartphone market, as pointed out by Strategy Analytics in a recent report.

Overall, as many as 132 different smartphone brands are operating in India as of H1 2016, which is a small increase over the same period last year, when 127 different brands were vying for the attention of the Indian smartphone buyer. However, even though more companies have come into the market, the number of phone launches during the period has gone down for the first time in three years. While H1 2015 saw as many as 857 smartphones being launched, only 507 handsets were launched during the same period this year, which represents a 29% decline YoY. The mid-range continues to dominate, and if the number of page views on the 91 Mobiles website is anything to go by, the most popular phones are in the Rs. 10,000 – Rs. 20,000 ($150 - $300) segment with 42% of all searches coming in for devices that fall in this particular price bracket.

However, the basic entry-level segment continues to remain the most popular among vendors, with a whopping 605 devices launched during the first six months of this year priced lower than Rs. 5,000 ($75). The premium segment (> Rs. 30,000 / $450), meanwhile, saw only 15 devices being launched, including the likes of the Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge and LG G5. One remarkable new phenomenon in the Indian mobile landscape has been the rocketing popularity of China-based companies over the past couple of years, and leading the charge have been two firms that have been struggling in their homeland over the past twelve months or so. Lenovo and Xiaomi, at fourth and fifth positions in the country last year, have now climbed to numbers two and three respectively, even though both only sell their devices exclusively online. Overall, Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 has been the most popular smartphone among netizens during the period, getting more page views than the next two devices on the list combined.

Meanwhile, India’s largest home-grown smartphone brand, Micromax, slipped down two places to number four, while HTC now stands at number five, having lost its number three spot to Xiaomi. Another Taiwanese company, however, has been having a much better time of it of late. ASUS has apparently climbed up one spot and is sitting pretty at number six, while LeEco has forced its way into the top ten in its very first year of starting operations in India, thanks largely to the LeEco 1S. Intex, Coolpad and Gionee round out the top ten. Other Chinese brands that are also becoming popular are OPPO and Vivo, both of which are also taking giant strides in the smartphone industry, having already replaced Xiaomi in their homeland. Another interesting point to note is how online-only brands have been trying to get their products to traditional offline retailers in order to reach a larger customer base, while vendors with established offline distribution channels, like Samsung and Micromax, are coming up with online-only devices to appeal to a more tech savvy user-base in the country.

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About the Author

Kishalaya Kundu

Senior Staff Writer
I've always been a tech buff and have been building my own PCs since as far back as I can remember. My first computer was a home-built desktop running MS-DOS on which I learnt to program in GW-BASIC and my interests apart from technology include automobiles and sports.