This is due to the growth of the mid-tier segment where Chinese brands aggressively introduced many flagship-grade features and capabilities to capture demand coming from users looking to upgrade from their first or second smartphone. Additionally, the online channels became the preferred selling platforms to introduce these products faster into the market.
Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, said, “Although the rate of growth for the smartphone market was only single digit for the first time on an annual basis, India is underpenetrated relative to many other markets; 4G penetration among subscribers being around 55%. Going forward, we expect this demand to grow further due to the ongoing transition from feature phones to smartphones and progressive diffusion of key smartphone features to the entry-level price tier as a result of hyper-competition among multiple players. We further expect brands to have multi-tier strategies involving partnerships in the mobile ecosystem from hardware, software and services, thus creating opportunities within different segments like entertainment, gaming, financial services and more."
Anshika Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research said, “Chinese brands’ share hit a record 72% for 2019 compared to 60% a year ago. During 2019 we have seen all major Chinese players expanding their footprint in offline and online channels to gain market share. For example, Xiaomi, realme, and OnePlus have increased their offline points of sale, while brands like Vivo have expanded their online reach with Z and U series. 2019 also marked the fifth anniversary in India for some OEMs. Several have seen significant growth from their first full year of operation. For example, over the past four years, Xiaomi, Vivo, and OnePlus have grown 15x, 24x, and 18x respectively. This highlights that OEMs are mature enough to capture the next wave of growth and further expand their operations in India."
Notably, Counterpoint says that Apple was one of the fastest-growing brands in Q4 2019, thanks to price cuts on the iPhone XR made possible by local manufacturing in India. Last year was reportedly the fastest rollout of new iPhones in the country with aggressive pricing and a good channel strategy. When the iPhone 11 was introduced it had a lower price point than the previous year's iPhone XR, helping Apple gain share during the festive season. However, Apple was not able to get enough market share to make the top five brands.
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