It has been raining reports on the Indian smartphone market, with Canalys, Counterpoint and Strategy Analytics all publishing their reports on the second quarter (Q2 2019) of the Indian smartphone market. While the three reports broadly follow similar lines, they do diverge on some points. Even as we wait for IDC’s take, here’s what we think the three reports reveal (or do not reveal) broadly:
Is the Indian smartphone market growing or shrinking?
Counterpoint is optimistic, claiming that the market’s 37 million units were a second-quarter shipment record, mentioning “single-digit” growth. Canalys, however, placed the shipments at 33 million and said that they actually represented a slight decline, mainly because feature phone users were not upgrading to smartphones, and that the Indian market should brace itself for further sluggish volume growth. Strategy Analytics pegged the market at 35.6 million units, with a relatively low growth of 3 percent, although pointing out that “India today remains one of only a handful of growth markets among the global smartphone industry.”
The strange case of rising – and falling – Samsung
All three reports have placed Samsung in second place, behind Xiaomi. However, while Strategy Analytics insisted that the Korean brand was in a resurgent mode and was closing the gap on Xiaomi, thanks to the success of the A and M series, Canalys claimed its fortunes were dipping and that it might even be overtaken at this rate by Vivo by the end of the year, although a portfolio refresh had positioned it well. Counterpoint highlighted that Samsung’s year on year growth had declined by 7 percent but the brand had recorded a 30 percent quarter on quarter growth.
To say Viva for Vivo is the question
Chinese brand Vivo similarly evoked different responses. Canalys insisted it was on the upswing, thanks to a record quarter and could even replace Samsung as number two by the end of the year, but Strategic Analytics claimed that the brand was “struggling to fend off a revitalized Samsung” (how do you gift off a brand that is well ahead of you is another matter for another day). Counterpoint, on the other hand, pointed out that Vivo’s year on year growth had been flat, but that its performance in the sub Rs 10,000 price point was strong. Interestingly, Canalys claimed that Vivo had focused on the Rs 10,000-15,000 segment, with the Vivo Y17 and the Vivo Y91 accounting for 1.5 million units in the second quarter.
Realme is a real star!
They might have disagreed on Vivo and Samsung, but all three reports stress that Realme was one of the star performers in the market. The Realme C2 (which Counterpoint says crossed a million units), Realme 3 and Realme 3 Pro are believed to have driven the growth of this new brand. Counterpoint highlights the fact that Realme was the fastest brand to hit the 8 million sales mark in India.
Oppo’s batting order blues
The strength of Realme’s performance has driven it into the top five of the Indian smartphone market. However, its exact position in the market is a matter of some dispute. Counterpoint has placed it at number four with a 9 percent share, ahead of its parent Oppo, which it has placed at 8 percent. Canalys and Strategic Analysts have, however, placed it at fifth slightly below Oppo, although both have kept its market share very close to 8 percent. Oppo itself is credited with a very impressive 53 percent quarter on quarter growth by Counterpoint, thanks mainly to its F11 series and also budget offerings like A5s and A1k. Strategy Analytics, however, has pointed out that while the brand is at fourth place, its share had dipped from 11 percent to 8 percent and that it was facing competition in mid-range price brands from the likes of Xiaomi.
Xiaomi – growing or static?
What of Xiaomi itself? All three reports have placed the Chinese brand at number one, but there the similarity between them ends. Strategic Analysts claims the brand’s share actually remained largely unchanged as compared to last year at around 29 percent, and that its lead over Samsung was shrinking. Counterpoint, however, credits the brand with a 6 percent growth, even though it agrees that its market share remained largely unchanged at 28 percent. Canalys, however, claims that the brand’s share went up from 30 percent a year ago to 31 percent, and actually gives the brand a massive 9 percent lead over Samsung – the two other reports have the lead at a much more modest 2.4-3 percent.
Indian brands fade, as the top five consolidate
It is interesting to see the brands missing out of the top 5 – Sony, LG, HTC, Motorola and of course, Nokia. But while some of them have some share to speak of, the state of Indian brands is supposed to be borderline perilous. Strategy Analytics points that out Indian brands account for less than 3 percent of the market and that the outlook for them in 2020 is bleak. Canalys hints at the same, pointing out that the top five brands accounted for 88 percent of the smartphone market, up from 80 percent last year. Which is not good news for the rather large group of brands that come under “others.”