[Stat Stories] Q3 2019 Indian Smartphone Market: Sales and Realme rising

The top two finally face a challenge

by: - Last updated on: October 26th, 2019

Notwithstanding all the talk in different circles about economic slowdowns and the like, the Indian smartphone market reached a record 49 million units in Q3 2019, as per the latest research from Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor service. The usual suspects, Xiaomi and Samsung were still ruling the charts, and in fact, the essential composition of the top five players in the Indian smartphone maker – Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Realme – seemingly remained unchanged. However, there is a lot going on below those figures. Here are just some of the trends that we have observed:

india smartphone market

Xiaomi and Samsung shares dipped…

Statistics can be tricky. A cursory look at the market shares of different brands in the Indian market would seem to indicate that the shares of both the market leaders, Xiaomi and Samsung have slipped a little. Xiaomi had a 27 percent market share in Q3 2018, which is down to 26 percent in Q3 2019. Samsung’s decline seems even more dramatic, from 23 percent in Q3 2018 to 20 percent in Q3 2019. This would seem to mean that while Xiaomi and Samsung remain numbers one and two in the market, their share is slipping. Is that really the case? Check the next point!

…but don’t just go by figures

q3 2019 smartphone market

Well, the truth is that Xiaomi recorded its highest ever shipments in Q3 2019. So while its comparative share seemed to have dipped, it actually shipped more phones – it is just that the market got bigger! Star performers for Xiaomi included the Redmi 7A, Redmi Note 7 Pro and Redmi Note 7S (interestingly there’s no mention of the Redmi K20 series, which was supposed to pave the brand’s way into a higher price segment). Samsung’s case seems to be slightly similar – its year on year (Q3 2019 compared to Q3 2018) shipments declined by 4 percent, but it actually shipped 3 percent more phones in Q3 2019 as compared to Q2 2018, with the budget Galaxy A2 Core and its upgraded A and M series devices doing well. So those considering writing about the decline of these brands would be well advised to wait for a while. They are not doing too badly really. That said, they are not as dominant as they once were (they often account for more than half the market together)- something which we will discuss in another point!

The Realme surge continues

Those who, on the other hand, wish to write about the rise and rise of Realme should go right ahead. For, the brand’s market share continues to expand at a rate that is frankly unlike anything we have seen for a while. In Q3 2018, it had a bare 3 percent market share. It now stands at 16 percent and is just a single percentage point behind Vivo, which is third in the market at 17 percent. Realme’s growth is very dramatic even if we go quarter on quarter – the brand had a 9 percent market share in Q2 2019, a third of market leader Xiaomi at that stage. It has almost doubled its share in a quarter, with Realme C2, Realme 3i and the Realme 5 series doing exceptionally well. If that is not sensational, we do not know what is.

Vivo gains, Oppo loves eight percent

Oppo must love the number 8. It had an 8 percent market share in the previous quarter, an 8 percent market share in Q3 2018 and has an 8 percent market share in Q3 2019. However, as the size of the market itself has expanded, Oppo’s actual shipments have increased – Counterpoint says that the brand saw a 12 percent year on year increase, fuelled by steady sales of the Oppo A5 and the F11 series. Vivo, on the other hand, has been increasing its market share steadily. Not as dramatically as Realme but significantly enough – the brand had 10 percent market share in Q3 2018, and 12 percent in Q2 2019, and it has increased its share quarter on quarter by more than forty percent to be at 17 percent, with the Vivo S1, Y17, Z1X, and Z1 Pro doing well. And it still has Realme breathing right down its neck!

OnePlus remains premium topper, Apple joins the top ten

Q3 2019 was a great time for OnePlus, which almost doubled its shipments from Q3 2018, and retained its position as the number one premium smartphone brand in the country. One of its rivals in that segment, Apple, meanwhile shot into the top ten of the Indian smartphone market, thanks to strong sales following a price cut of the iPhone XR and evidently very high demand for the iPhone 11. Samsung also turned in a very good performance in the premium segment, thanks to its Galaxy Note 10.

Sneaking up on the top two

Perhaps the REAL story for us in this report is how the gap between the top two brands and the rest has narrowed. A year ago in Q3 2018, Xiaomi had 27 percent share and Samsung 23 percent. Vivo was at 10 percent, Oppo was at 8 percent and Realme at 3 percent. In simple terms, Samsung itself had more market share than Oppo, Vivo, and Realme put together. That has changed dramatically. Vivo and Realme at 17 and 16 percent respectively are not that far off Samsung’s 20 percent share. Xiaomi and Samsung might continue to be the top two in the Indian smartphone market, but numbers three and four are not too far away. Watch this space!

The decline of “others” continues

The narrowing of the gap at the top of the Indian smartphone market is countered by a widening gap between the top five brands and the rest. In Q3 2018, “others” (brands other than the top five) had accounted for almost a third of the market at 29 percent. This was however down to 18 percent in Q2 2019. And now it is rapidly moving towards a single-digit number – just 13 percent in. Q3 2019. When you consider the brands in those others – Nokia, Honor, Huawei, OnePlus, Motorola, Asus, Lenovo, Apple, and a few others – it does seem to indicate that the top brands in the market are pulling away from the rest of the competition. We hope that changes.

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