Chinese smartphone firms nearly topple Samsung in India

Research firm Strategy Analytics showed Samsung had a 26 per cent share, while Xiaomi had a 25 per cent share in the July-September period.
Research firm Strategy Analytics showed Samsung had a 26 per cent share, while Xiaomi had a 25 per cent share in the July-September period.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL (THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Chinese smartphone firms that dominate their country's market are now rapidly moving into India, where Samsung has taken the lead over the past six years.

According to a report released by Counterpoint Research on Tuesday (Nov 21), South Korean electronics giant Samsung barely retained its top spot with a 22.8 per cent share in the Indian smartphone market during the third quarter.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi closely followed with a 22.3 per cent share in the same period.

Another research firm, Strategy Analytics, showed Samsung had a 26 per cent share, while Xiaomi had a 25 per cent share in the July-September period. Three Chinese firms, Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo, all ranked in the top five with 10 per cent, 9 per cent and 7 per cent shares respectively.

The combined share of Chinese firms in the Indian smartphone market stood at 57 per cent during the quarter, a sharp rise from 1 per cent in the third quarter of 2012.

With a population of 1.3 billion, India has become the world's second-largest smartphone market, outstripping the US - which has a population of 320 million - in the third quarter of this year with shipments of 40 million units.

The gap is expected to grow wider, according to industry watchers.

Chinese companies, which boast affordable yet quality phones, are now solidifying their presence in India, where budget phones account for around 97 per cent of the market.

"Models such as the OnePlus 5 which are high-specification devices but cost almost 40 to 50 per cent lower than the competition's offerings… are eating away into the share of established brands such as Samsung and Apple," said Karn Chauhan, a research analyst at Counterpoint Research. The OnePlus 5 is made by the Chinese firm OnePlus, whose parent company is Oppo.

Noh Geun Chang, a researcher at local firm HMC Investment, said: "Even if Samsung stays the course to retain the market share in India, the firm will not have much to benefit. It is better for the firm to focus on the premium markets, including the US and Europe while just maintaining its brand in emerging nations."

Samsung is also facing setbacks in China with the rise of Chinese alternatives including Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo.

Samsung, once the dominant player in China with a share of around 20 per cent, ranked ninth in the world's largest smartphone market, with a 2 per cent share in the third quarter, according to a report earlier this month by Strategic Analytics.

This share is predicted to further drop to 1.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, the report said.