Samsung, Micromax, Intex lead Indian smartphone market in Q4

Samsung Electronics, Micromax Informatics and Intex led the Indian mobile phone market in the quarter ended March, when midpriced smartphones captured the biggest slice of the market by volume for the first time, exceeding the share of entry-level devices.

It was a huge quarter for Indian brands - their share of the smartphone market was at an all-time high of 45%, while 67% of all phones shipped were made in India, according to CyberMedia Research's India mobile handset report on Tuesday.

The mid-price segment - devices costing Rs 10,000-15,000 - accounted for about 22% of smartphone shipments in the quarter, overtaking the Rs 6,000-8,000 band, which typically leads by volume share.

"The increase has been primarily due to introduction of shipments by LeEco and launch of new handsets/significant increase in shipments from Lenovo, Oppo, LG, Panasonic, Micromax, Intex, Lyf and Vivo," said Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst at CyberMedia Research's telecom practice.

The smartphone category registered an impressive 21.4% year-onyear growth even as the average price of these devices surged, while sales of feature phones fell and the overall market shrank.

Smartphone shipments climbed to 23.6 million units, although they dropped 8% from the previous quarter, on the back of an inventory build-up in the three months ended December, which added to the cyclical trough seen during the first quarter every year. The average selling price of a smartphone increased to Rs 12,983 in March from Rs 10,364 a year earlier and Rs 12,285 in December, CyberMedia said.

India shipped 52.8 million handsets in the January-to-March period compared with 55.4 million a year earlier.

The number declined 12.8% from 60.5 million in the quarter ended December. Sales of feature phones declined 17% sequentially and 19% on year to 29.2 million units in the quarter. Samsung led with a 28% share in the world's fastest-growing smartphone market, followed by Micromax with 16% and Intex with 12%.

The No. 4 and No. 5 positions were taken by Lenovo and Reliance Jio, with 9% and 8% shares, respectively. CyberMedia was the second agency to report Jio's entry in the top five smartphone space with its Lyf-branded phones, after Counterpoint Technology Market Research said last week the company's share was 7%. Samsung also led the overall market with a 25% share, followed by Micromax (13%) and Intex (12%). The market share of Chinese and other global brands declined by a few percentage points.

"While the global players are increasingly focusing on 4G LTE technology, domestic players could still see some profits in 3G technology. Moving forward, it would be all about 4G LTE and 2016 is the year when a major transformation is expected in the telecom sector with respect to change in technology," said Krishna Mukherjee, telecoms analyst at CyberMedia.

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