After a wobble in Q2 2017, India’s smartphone market recovered quickly, with shipments growing 23 percent year-on-year in Q3 2017 to reach just over 40 million units. India has now overtaken the U.S. to become the world’s second largest smartphone market after China.
Samsung and Xiaomi, which shipped 9.4 million and 9.2 million units, respectively, accounted for almost half of the total market, as the top five vendors continued to post strong growth in Q3 2017. The market continues to concentrate, with the top five vendors (Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo) now accounting for 75 percent of total shipments in India.
Samsung shipped 9.4 million smartphones, almost 30 percent more than in Q3 last year. Second-placed Xiaomi increased shipments by over 290 percent to 9.2 million units.
“Xiaomi’s growth is a clear example of how a successful online brand can effectively enter the offline market while maintaining low overheads,” said Canalys Analyst Rushabh Doshi. “But Xiaomi focuses on the low end. It struggles in the mid-range (devices priced between INR15,000 and INR20,000 or $230 to $310), where Samsung, Oppo and Vivo are particularly strong. Nevertheless, we predict Xiaomi’s continued go-to-market innovations will allow it to overtake Samsung within a couple of quarters.”
Apple began local production in India earlier this year, and its iPhone shipments more than doubled to 900,000 units in Q3 2017 compared with Q3 2016, impressive growth in a market that is skewed toward low-end smartphones.
“This growth comes as a relief to the smartphone industry. Doubts about India’s market potential are clearly dispelled by this result,” said Canalys Research Analyst Ishan Dutt. “There are close to 100 mobile device brands sold in India, with more vendors arriving every quarter. In addition, India has one of the most complex channel landscapes, but with low barriers to entry. Growth will continue. Low smartphone penetration and the explosion of LTE are the main drivers.”
After a rocky start to India's goods and services tax (GST), the market has shown strong signs of stability in Q3, with most of the channel adapting to the new rules on time.
“The Indian economy is proving very strong in the second half of 2017, now that the twin shocks of GST and demonetization are behind it.” added Doshi. “Reduced indirect taxes have added new equity to the market, with distributors and retailers able to serve areas beyond their home regions as inter-state operations become easier. As the infrastructure matures, consolidation in distribution is inevitable.”