South Korean electronics giant Samsung along with three other Chinese brands– Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo make most smartphones sold in India. Rushabh Doshi, research director, Canalys India in an interaction with The Times of India– GadgetsNow said that the pandemic had impacted all smartphone brands equally, these four brands managed to further grow in the highly competitive Indian smartphone market.
“With the supply chain in China stifled, brands that were able to ensure a healthy supply of product sped ahead than the rest. Local manufacturing and an independent local strategy think-tank have been key to ensuring a lead in the market. Oppo, Samsung, Xiaomi and Vivo collectively produce more than 95% of all smartphones that are sold in the India market,” Doshi said.
Almost all brands grew in Q3 2020, with the top 5 brands consolidating share despite challenges by the pandemic. They accounted for 93.6% of the market as opposed to 90.2% of the market a year ago, he added.
Going ahead the major issue that smartphone brands would face is differentiating their products. “The most visible differentiation that smartphone vendors can aim for is from hardware, with foldable screens, reversible cameras and even expandable phones. This has to be strongly supported by the “software” and “go-to-market” innovations. Therefore, investing in R&D around UI, computational photography, localisation, and predominantly user-experience, especially in the mass-market segment will be key to staying relevant in 2021,” Doshi said.
As components get expensive, the biggest challenge for top Indian smartphone vendors will be how to serve this unconnected population with affordable yet quality smartphones.
Talking about affordable 5G smartphones, Canalys predicts more than 50% of all phones being shipped in 2021 to be 5G-enabled, as consumers want to remain “future-proof,” despite the poor availability of 5G today. But having said that it would be immensely difficult for brands to provide 5G support to phones under Rs 10,000.
“Given 5G is relatively new, pushing the device below Rs 10,000 will be a difficult thing for any brand to achieve. Through 2022, Canalys expects less than 10% of all devices priced below Rs 10,000 to be 5G-enabled, with the number rising to just 30% in 2024. For devices priced Rs 30,000 and above, that share will hover to more than 80% in 2022, and 100% in 2023 and beyond,” he said.
“Vendors must have a strong reason to push 5G to lower price points, and given that 5G is still 3-4 years away, most vendors could skip one-two cycles to ensure success in 5G. Being first to the market in this case will not ensure long-term success. It will be important to produce 5G devices at scale and ensure that demand generated from mainstream users moving to 5G, two to three years from now, is met,” added Doshi.