Xiaomi Surpassed Samsung As The Leading Smartphone Brand in Q4 2017

India’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 37% and smartphone shipments grew 12% with feature phones growing an astonishing 55% during 4Q 2017. Despite India’s seasonal peak normally being pre-Diwali shipments in the third quarter, the market set a volume shipment record in the fourth quarter for the first time.

This surprising annual growth can be attributed to higher demand for smartphones and more so for feature phones. The strong growth is also partly due to last year’s weak quarter due to the impact of demonetization. Feature phones have been driven by the disruptive entry of Jiophone, which expanded the feature phone segment. The quarter also saw new device launches and strong promotions from various brands looking to catalyse demand after Diwali

The competitive landscape has changed significantly in the last year, with the rise of brands such as Xiaomi, OPPO, VIVO in the smartphone segment and players such as Reliance Jio, Nokia HMD and iTel in the feature phone segment — all able to disrupt the market with high-quality and attractively-priced offerings. During the second half, players such as Xiaomi was particularly disruptive with an aggressively-priced, broad portfolio taken to market with an effective channel expansion strategy. This helped Xiaomi to surpass the long-time market leader, Samsung, for the first time ever. This performance ended Samsung’s six year market dominance.

Exhibit 1: India Smartphone Market Share Q4 2017 and CY 2017

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2017

*Lenovo Includes Motorola

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor CY 2017

Reliance Jio captured a 26% share of the feature phone segment in just one quarter with its compelling value proposition compared to the normal 2G feature phones. We expect the 4G feature phone segment will be a 200 million unit opportunity by volume, over the next five years as the hundreds of millions of current feature phone users in India are likely to upgrade to VoLTE handsets. While Jiophone saw healthy sell-in during 4Q, we believe the operator exited the quarter with some inventory, which could affect its share in coming quarters.

Exhibit 2: India Featurephone Market Share Q4 2017 and CY 2017

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor Q4 2017

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor CY 2017

Market Summary:

  • India mobile handset and smartphone market grew by 37% and 12% YoY driven by strong demand from the featurephone and smartphone segment.
  • Chinese brands performance remained strong throughout the year and captured 54% smartphone market share in CY 2017 up from 34% during CY 2016.
  • However, local brands like Micromax and Lava have done well in CY 2017 recovering from their all-time low during demonetization last year. Micromax Bharat and Lava Z series performed well in the sub $100 segment. Micromax Bharat 2 was the best-selling smartphone in the sub $75 segment during CY 2017.
  • Xiaomi (259%), iTel (213%), Huawei (165%), Vivo (115%) and OPPO (104%) were the fastest growing smartphone brands during CY 2017.
  • Affordable mid end segment (₹10,000-₹15,000 or US$150-$230) was the fastest growing segment (+52%)in CY 2017 driven by the strong performance of Xiaomi. The Chinese vendor alone, contributed to almost 37% of the shipments in this segment.
  • Average selling price of the overall smartphone market grew 13% YoY due to increased mix of mid segment phones.
  • Over ten new smartphone brands entered India during CY 2017. Players like Nokia HMD, Comio, Infinix and Tecno did well in their first year of operations in India, by expanding their distribution reach in a short span of time.
  • Premium segment (>₹30,000, US$465) grew 20% YoY during CY 2017 due to the strong performance of OnePlus, Apple & Samsung. OnePlus was the fastest growing brand in the premium segment during CY 2017.
  • Qualcomm was the leader amongst smartphone chipset suppliers. Qualcomm powered smartphones grew a healthy 53% YoY in CY 2017. The demand of its chipsets in the fastest growing (₹10,000-₹15,000) segment drove growth.
  • Online sales and promotions remained strong even after Diwali till the end of December 2017 as some of the brands were clearing their inventory. However, new launches by brands like OnePlus, Nokia HMD, Huawei, Micromax, Xiaomi drove shipments. Over 60 new smartphone models were launched after Diwali alone.
  • CY 2017 saw intense competition in the smartphone segment with over 100 brands competing in the space.

Xiaomi ended CY 2017 in India on a very strong note. Not only the brand grew 259% YoY but also saw three of its models within the top five bestselling smartphone list of CY2017. Samsung had the most number of models in the top 10 selling list of CY2017 leveraging its advantage of a strong presence across all the price bands.

Exhibit 3: India Top Smartphone Models CY 2017

Source: Counterpoint Research Market Monitor CY 2017