Although the Indian smartphone market had a slow start this year, it ended on a high note, as it grew 14 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019, with a total shipment of 39.0 million units. When it comes to the full year, it grew by 8 per cent with a total of 148 million smartphones shipped to India. Xiaomi led the market in Q4, with its shipments rising by 13 per cent, amounting to a total of 11.2 million units. The Chinese smartphone-maker shipped 42.9 million units in 2019. Samsung followed suit, although it registered a 7 per cent decline. The South Korean giant shipped 8.1 million units in Q4 and ended the year with a total of 32.3 million units as compared to 35.4 million units in 2018.
‘While the current slowdown continues to shroud the market with much uncertainty, the end-of-year surge saved the market from an otherwise poor first-half performance. Online sales have been a silver lining, with vendors boosting sell-in to online retailers Flipkart and Amazon via exclusive tie-ups. However, relying exclusively on the online channel proved to be a double-edged sword, especially for Realme, which has seen its sell-in fall, as online sales slowed down after the festive season. But overall, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Realme had a commendable year,’ Canalys Analyst Madhumita Chaudhary said in a statement.
Vivo finished third, but the market researcher says that the company can overtake Samsung this year. Vivo’s shipments grew by 69 per cent in Q4 (with a total of 7 million units) and by 72 per cent in the whole year (a total of 24.7 million units). Realme, which took the fourth spot, was the best performing vendor in 2019, with shipment growth of 473 per cent – the highest for any vendor. In Q4, Realme almost quadrupled its shipments to 4.7 million units. Oppo shipped 4.5 million units in Q4 (42 per cent growth year-on-year), and 16.1 million smartphones (44 per cent growth) in 2019.
Thanks to a cheaper iPhone 11, Apple registered its best-ever performance in India. Canalys says that the vendor shipped close to 925,000 iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2019 and registered a massive growth of over 200 per cent annually. Apple also finished sixth behind Oppo, which is its highest rank in India since Q4 2013. ‘The partnership with local bank HDFC made iPhones more affordable, with the entry-level iPhone 11 one of the cheapest new iPhones in a while. The new iPhones have appealed not just to current iPhone users looking to upgrade, but also to value-conscious premium phone purchasers that are now presented with a formidable price-alternative to the Samsung or OnePlus flagships,’ Chaudhary added.
Canalys expects that the Indian smartphone market will grow by 8 per cent in 2020, shipping over 160 million units in the year. It also says that vendors remain bullish on the smartphone market, even as India is witnessing its slowest GDP growth in six years. 'Vendors will adopt a wait-and-react stance in 2020. With all eyes on the 2020 budget, vendors' short-term and long-term prospects will depend on the government's regulations and taxation,' added Adwait Mardikar, Canalys Research Analyst.