Indian Smartphone Market Almost Cut in Half by Covid

Ringing in the lockdown blues

by: - Last updated on: July 19th, 2020

Canalys has released its report on the Indian smartphone market for the second quarter of 2020 (Q2 2020). And as expected, it is not pleasant reading. The nation had headed into lockdown as the first quarter ended, and restrictions are still in place in many areas. Needless to say, this hit the smartphone market badly. In fact, there were almost zero sales for a month or so when markets were closed and e-commerce portals were not allowed to sell phones.

indian smartphone market covid

The result: the Indian smartphone market dipped by 48 percent in the second quarter of this year. There were some interesting developments even in this slowdown, though. Here are some of the highlights of the report (as the shipment numbers were very low as compared to Q2 2019, with the markets having being closed, we have focused more on change in market shares than on actual volumes sold):

A big dip

With the economy largely shut down from the beginning of the quarter till mid-May, smartphone brands in India had a really rough time. In all, a mere 17.3 million units were shipped in this period, almost half of the 33 million units that were shipped in Q2 2019. This also represented a huge quarter on quarter dip – 33.5 million units had been shipped in Q1 2020, even as the lockdown came into place towards the end of the quarter.

Xiaomi still rules

Its numbers took a hit like those of all the others, but Xiaomi continued to be the top smartphone brand in India. The brand shipped 5.3 million units to get a 30.9 percent market share, although this was down from 10.3 million units in Q2 2019, and actually the same figure in Q1 2020. Its market share in percentage terms however took a slight dip from 31.3 percent at this time last year.

Vivo is steady at number two, and growing

It has been the surprise story of the Indian smartphone market over the past few quarters, with a rapidly expanding market share. And Vivo continues to do very well. The brand had recently displaced Samsung as the number two brand in the country and has maintained its position in Q2 2020 as well. It shipped 3.7 million units in this period and saw its market share actually go up from 17.5 percent in Q2 2019 to 21.3 percent. It even rose above the 19.9 percent share it had in Q1 2020. This brand seems to be in no mood to give up the second spot.

canalys india q2 2020
Image: Canalys

Samsung remains at number three but the numbers are dipping

It used to be number one not that long ago, and number two even a lesser while ago, but recent times have seen Samsung slip to the number three slot. And Q2 2020 saw the Korean brand stay at that spot, shipping 2.9 million units. However, its market share dipped from 22.1 percent in Q2 2019 (when it was the number two brand), and 18.9 percent in Q1 2020 – it now stands at 16.8 percent.

Vivo is opening up a gap over Samsung

When Vivo surprised everyone by taking the second spot in the Indian smartphone market, there were many who had expected Samsung to come back strongly. In Q1 2020, the difference between the two brands was a single percentage point – Vivo had a 19.9 percent market share while Samsung had an 18.9 percent share. However, Q2 2020 has seen this gap expand – Vivo now has a 21.3 percent share, as compared to 16.8 percent of Samsung. The Korean brand has a lot of ground to cover to get back its number two spot, as Vivo continues to grow in terms of market share.

Oppo pips Realme, gets fourth

Oppo and its former sub-brand Realme have been fighting over the number four place in the Indian market for a while. Q1 2020 had seen Realme finish ahead of Oppo, but Q2 2020 saw Oppo take back the fourth place, pushing Realme to fifth. Oppo shipped 2.2 million units in the quarter, as compared to 1.7 million by Realme. Oppo also saw its market share rise to 12.9 percent, well above the 9.2 percent a year ago, and 10.4 percent in Q1 2020.

A quiet time for Realme

The second quarter of 2020 was a quiet one for the newest kid on the Indian smartphone block. A year or so ago, there had been talk of Realme making a push to be part of the top three in the Indian market, given its meteoric growth. However, that seems a little far-fetched right now. The brand shipped 1.7 million units in Q2 2020 and got a market share of 10 percent, which is up from 8.1 percent in Q2 2019 but down from 11.7 percent in Q1 2020. Given the flurry of releases from Realme in recent times, though, the brand could be back in contention for higher spot honors.

indian smartphone market q2 2020
Image: Canalys

“Others” are disappearing

We have remarked in the past about how the market share of “others” comprising brands outside the top five in the market has been shrinking. Q1 2020 had seen it dip to a mere 8.5 percent and Q2 2020 saw it go down further to 8.4 percent, with just 1.4 million units shipped. When you consider that “others” include brands like Nokia, Motorola/Lenovo, Asus, Lava/Xolo, OnePlus, Honor, and Apple, that number is alarming.

Note: Better times ahead? (not from the report)

Although what we saw of the report makes no reference to market prospects for the rest of the year, most of the people in the industry seem to think that Q3 2020 and Q4 2020 will see the smartphone market bounce back. There are even some who believe that Q3 2020 might see a huge spike in sales given the pent up demand from Q2 2020, which had seen most markets either closed or restricted. As markets increasingly open up and some sort of “normalcy” returns, shipments are expected to rise. We are sure the brands would be hoping so.

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