Report: Xiaomi Overtook Samsung to Become the Top Smartphone Vendor in India in Q4 2017
The Indian smartphone market has gone through a series of drastic changes. When Android first came on the scene, multinationals like Samsung and HTC had a clear lead thanks to years of smartphone manufacturing experience and expertise. In recent years, though, India-based companies such as Micromax and Karbonn have started to cater to the demands of Indian consumers and sell smartphones at much cheaper prices, undercutting the international competition.
As a result, Micromax, Karbonn, and other homegrown Indian smartphone makers have climbed through the market’s ranks as LG, HTC, and others have gone the way of the dodo. Samsung managed to hold onto its pole position despite the competition, in part thanks to an extensive retail network and aggressive marketing. But over the past two years, China-based smartphone manufacturers have climbed the ranks, threatening the market share of Indian smartphone manufacturers and multinationals alike.
According to a report released by Canalys, Xiaomi became the top smartphone manufacturer in India during the fourth quarter of 2017 with cumulative smartphone shipment of 8.2 million units, beating Samsung’s 7.3 million smartphone shipments. Xiaomi now commands a market share of 27% in the Indian smartphone market while Samsung trails at 25 percent.
According to Canalys’s Ishan Dutt, the autonomy granted to Xiaomi’s India-based division played a crucial role in the company’s success — it’s managed to become the top smartphone manufacturer in India just three years after entering the country. The top two smartphone brands in India, Xiaomi and Samsung, now command more than 50 percent of the country’s smartphone market. Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo are the distant third-, fourth- and fifth-largest smartphone makers in India, respectively.
Samsung disputes that Xiaomi has overtaken it to become the country’s largest smartphone manufacturer. It’s cited data from German research firm Gfk suggesting that it retained the number one spot in Q4 2017 with 40 percent market share. Xiaomi, for its part, has argued that Gfk data only tracks offline sales and doesn’t account for online smartphone sales in India, which make up 33 percent of overall smartphone sales in the country. It’s has also cited data from Counterpoint, which along with Canalys puts Xiaomi ahead of Samsung in terms of Indian phone market share.
Our take: The war of words between Samsung and Xiaomi doesn’t mean all that much. Xiaomi has been inching up to Samsung for quite some time now — it’s not a one-time, out-of-the-blue development. Xiaomi’s rise has been slow, steady, and organic, and with the company’s aggressive push into the retail, Samsung has quite a challenge on its hands.