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  September 2nd, 2015 | Written by

India’s Smartphone Market Soars in the Second Quarter of 2015

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  • IDC: Online retail opened additional avenues for growth for many smartphone vendors in India.
  • IDC: “Unlike China, we don’t expect the Indian consumer to make a quick switch to the smartphone.”
  • By 2017, India will overtake the U.S. as the second largest smartphone market globally.

Over 26 million smartphones were shipped to India in the second quarter of 2015, up 44 percent from 18.4 million units for the same period last year, according to a report from International Data Corporation (IDC). Smartphone shipments grew by 19 percent following a sluggish first quarter.

The growth was specific to smartphones. The overall Indian mobile phone market shrunk by six percent in the second quarter of 2015 year over year.  Vendors shipped 59.4 million units in 2Q15 compared to 63.2 million units shipped in the second quarter of 2014.

The growth in the smartphone market was helped by vendors using online retail (eTail) to penetrate the market. “eTailers have opened additional avenues for growth for many vendors in India,” said Kiran Kumar, research manager with IDC’s India Mobile Phone team,  “who would have otherwise struggled to get a hold in the complex distribution network.”

Although India remains a retail dominated market, vendors such as Lenovo and Xiaomi have used online retail channels in India to rapidly expand their presence. “The share of smartphone shipments through eTailers increased for most of the key vendors in Q2,” added Kumar.

Chinese vendors have tripled their shipments year over year in India and doubled quarter-on-quarter (QoQ). Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei and Gionee accounted for 12 percent of the total smartphone market in the second quarter, double from a year ago. “As China started to slow down, most vendors have targeted India as the next big growth market for smartphones,” said Kiranjeet Kaur, research manager with IDC’s Asia/Pacific Mobile Phone team.

The new entrants to the Indian market have utilized specific strategies to drive sales growth. “Key to the success of the Chinese vendors has been popular flash sales,” said Kaur. “They have also focused on bringing more 4G phones at affordable price points, which is a segment left unattended by Indian and global vendors.”

In the latest quarter, almost one-fifth of the smartphones sold in China were under $100, while in India almost half of all smartphones shipped during the same period fell into that price segment. “Unlike China, we don’t expect the Indian consumer to make a quick switch to the smartphone, and vendors should keep in mind that they are here for the long haul,” said Kaur.

IDC expects India to maintain a double-digit growth rate in the smartphone market over the next few years as people switch to smartphones and gradually upgrade to 4G. By 2017, IDC expects India to overtake the United States as the second largest smartphone market globally.