After overtaking Samsung as the market leader in India in Q4 2017, Chinese company Xiaomi consolidated the lead with 31.1% of the smartphone market share (in terms of shipments) in Q1 2018, according to the latest report by Counterpoint Research, a Hong Kong based research firm. Xiaomi’s market share in the previous quarter was 25%.

The report attributes Xiaomi’s success to a series of new smartphone launches in the budget segment. “Xiaomi’s performance is driven by rising product-pull in the offline market, building upon its strong presence in the online channel where it captured a record 57% share. Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 and 5 Pro were the most popular models for the Chinese brand," said Anshika Jain, research analyst at Counterpoint Research.

Samsung market share increased from 23% in Q4 2017 to 26.2% in Q1 2018, but has a lot of ground to cover to get back at the top. The South Korean company released two of its flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S9 and S9+, in Q1 2018, but its growth was largely driven by launches in the budget segment which includes the Galaxy J7 NXT and J2 (2017).

The report also highlights the growing domination of the top five smartphone vendors and the possibility of future mergers or exits by small vendors. The combined market share of the top five companies in the March quarter was 70%. Samsung and Xiaomi together accounted for 58% of the total market share, while the combined market share of Chinese companies was 57%.

There has also been a shake up in the top five as Huawei has replaced Lenovo as the fifth biggest smartphone vendor in India. Huawei, which includes the sub brand Honor, holds 3.4% of the market share. The researchers attributed the growth to the positive response to its budget smartphones, the Honor 9 Lite and Honor 7X.

Vivo and Oppo are the third and fourth leading smartphone vendors in Q1 2018, respectively. Vivo’s market share was 5.8%, down from 6% in Q4 2017 while Oppo’s market share also fell from 6% in Q4 2017 to 5.6% in the latest quarter.

In the premium market, which includes smartphones above Rs30,000, Samsung is the leading vendor with 50% of the market share, while OnePlus is at the second potion with 25% market.

Despite the phenomenal growth by Huawei and Xiaomi, the smartphone market in the country remained flat in terms of YoY (year-on-year) growth. “Q1 2018 started off with some brands sitting on inventory post the festive season in Q4 2017, which continued throughout the quarter as industry moves to a full view display portfolio. The quarter was also marked with less than normal smartphone launches as very few brands refreshed their portfolio, except for Xiaomi and Samsung," said Karn Chauhan, research analyst at Counterpoint Research.

According to the report, feature phones are not going away anytime soon in India as their demand almost doubled in Q1 2018. The launch of affordable 4G data plans on JioPhone helped Reliance Jio emerge as the leading feature phone vendor in India with 35.8% market share, while more established names such as Samsung, Nokia and Lava have 9.8%,7.3% and 5.6% market share, respectively. Transsion Holdings’ sub brand Itel is the other newcomer that is making heads turn in the feature phone market. Its market share in March quarter was 9.4% making it the third leading feature phone vendor in India.

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