NEW DELHI: India's smartphones sales for this year will likely miss the projected target of 162 million units by a shade over a fifth because of the disruption caused by covid-19 and the ensuing lockdown, research firm techARC reports in its revised market forecast.
Basic and mid-segment smartphones, priced at ₹5,001-25,000, will continue to account for over 92% of total sales. Shipments in the entry segment--below ₹5,000--will fall, while the luxe segment-- ₹50,000 and above--will remain unaffected.
Many buyers are expected to shift to lower priced smartphones due to financial uncertainties brought on by covid-19.
The top five smartphone companies-- Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, Oppo and Realme-- will only take a mild hit though as they were quick to adapt to the changing market dynamics. As many offline retail channel remained closed due to partial lockdown in places, top smartphone vendors have started using O2O (online to offline) models, where demand is aggregated online and fulfilled through offline retail stores.
Customers are first allowed to register interest through social media or company's online stores or even third party online stores, following which local offline retailers are looped in to take the sale forward. Customers are given the option of having their phone delivered at home or picking it up from store.
Samsung has also asked its offline retail partners to set up their business page on Facebook. Vivo's smart retail project is being used to connect offline retail partners to customers in their area looking for a new phone.
According to techARC, O2O models can pick up and contribute 5-7% of total sales in coming months as many customers would be skeptical of venturing into stores given the threat of the pandemic is far from over.
Compared to big and niche companies, smaller companies are more likely to be affected by the crisis.
Going forward, smartphone companies will have to diversify into other categories to leverage consumer interest in products that would keep them safe and allow being productive while working from home.
Xiaomi recently announced that it was bringing its laptops to India. This seems motivated by the growing interest in laptops given that more and more people are working from home. Several laptop vendors have reported a significant increase in sales, with pent up demand from during the lockdown also a factor.
The report said the worst phase for Indian smartphone industry is over, with the reopening of factories and fulfilment of sales.
A likely fallout will be smartphone companies experimenting less and focussing on basic customer needs such as after-sales services and timely software updates.