Losing ground

Chinese smartphone makers—Oppo, Lenovo, Vivo and Xiaomi—and no Indian manufacturers feature in the top five of India’s smartphone market


Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg

The International Data Corp.’s (IDC’s) Q4 2016 figures show the inroads Chinese companies have made in the Indian phone market. For the first time, no Indian manufacturer features in the top five of India’s smartphone market. The winners? Oppo, Lenovo, Vivo and Xiaomi, all Chinese, with South Korea’s Samsung retaining pole position.

What gives? Demonetisation has likely played a role. Previous IDC figures showed that smartphone sales in November were down 30.5% month on month—and Indian companies were harder hit than their Chinese rivals due to poorer distribution networks. But it would be a mistake to see Chinese companies’ surge as temporary. They generally offer high-quality phones at reasonable prices and have established themselves well when it comes to increasingly important online sales.

Indian companies still dominate the feature phone market—but Chinese companies are making a play here too. And this segment will inevitably shrink as the market for smartphones grows.

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