Canalys: Samsung and Xiaomi each ship 9.9 million smartphones in India in Q2 2018
According to Canalys, Samsung and Xiaomi each shipped 9.9 million smartphones in India in Q2 2018. This means that Samsung has caught up to Xiaomi this quarter. To recap, Xiaomi overtook Samsung to become the largest smartphone vendor in India in Q4 2017, and held on to its first position in Q1 2018. Now, the two competitors are neck-and-neck in the Indian smartphone market.
Canalys states that the two companies now account for 60 percent of total shipments in India—up from 43 percent a year ago. Xiaomi more than doubled its shipments (from a modest base), which just about put it in first place. Samsung’s annual growth, on the other hand, was the best it has been since Q4 2014 at nearly 50 percent.
Vivo placed in third place followed by Oppo in fourth, with shipments of 3.6 and 3.1 million respectively. Overall smartphone shipments grew by 22 percent to 32.6 million units.
According to Canalys’ smartphone sell-in estimates, the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro was Samsung’s top model in Q2 2018, with 2.3 million units shipped in India. In contrast, Xiaomi shipped 3.3 million of the Xiaomi Redmi 5A. (In our view, this shows the stark contrast in value between Xiaomi and Samsung’s phones. The Redmi 5A has better specifications than the Galaxy J2 Pro, while being cheaper as well.)
Canalys states that smaller vendors are not giving up despite ongoing consolidation at the top of the Indian smartphone market, and they continue to rewrite their business strategies with the goal of long-term sustainability and profitability. Asus is a prime example here. Canalys notes that Asus recently changed its India strategy and moved from a distributor-driven go-to market model to a single partner, online-first strategy with Flipkart. (The company is achieving great success with the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1.) The company’s shipments almost tripled since the previous quarter.
Oppo, too, has changed its strategy after seeing shipments fall to a low of 2.2 million in Q4 2017. It launched a new online exclusive sub-brand, Realme, which directly challenges Xiaomi in the value for money segment. The Realme 1 undercuts all of its competitors in pricing, and has sold 400,000 units in 40 days in India.
Canalys notes that volume is not the only strategy to achieve success in India. The climate is said to be right for businesses to realign and re-enter the market in order to benefit from additional business opportunities. The Apple iPhone, on the other hand, isn’t doing well in India. Apple’s iPhone shipments fell by 50 percent in Q2 2018. The company seems to be playing the long game as it has pared back distribution partners and has opted to go for a “brand-first, volume-next” strategy according to Canalys. Apple has clearly gone for profitability over volume growth, but it remains to be seen how well the strategy is working. Other reports estimate that the company has 2 percent share of the Indian smartphone market.
In our view, the inference drawn from the report can be summed up as follows: there are multiple ways to succeed in the Indian smartphone market. Xiaomi is the leader of the budget and lower mid-range smartphone market, as the company sells phones that have a high price/performance ratio. Samsung’s budget phones fail to compete in terms of specifications, but still do well in terms of sales because of branding, marketing, and offline sales. Other companies like Asus and Oppo have successfully either turned around their business model (in case of Asus) or introduced an additional lucrative sales model (in case of Oppo’s Realme brand).
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