The report highlights that smartphone shipments grew 19 percent in the second quarter after a slow start in the first quarter. The Indian smartphone market saw 26.5 million units being shipped in the second quarter, which is up 44 percent from 18.4 million units shipped in the same period last year, according to IDC.
It added that the growth was specific to the smartphone segment only, as the overall mobile phone market by 6 percent in Q2 on a year-on-year basis. Manufacturers shipped 59.4 million units in the Q2 this year compared to 63.2 million units shipped in the same period last year.
Samsung remained on top despite seeing a quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) shipment decline, however, the company saw shipments growing on a year-on-year basis. The report points out that the affordable segment phones such as the Samsung Galaxy J1 and Galaxy Core helped the company to gain lead. The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones showed slow sales in the first full quarter, according to IDC.
In the second spot, Micromax made a comeback in the second quarter with smartphone offerings in the $50-150 (approximately Rs. 3,100-10,000) price segment. The report however claims that the sales of Micromax's Android One phones and Yu Yureka saw a slow start.
Intex made it to the third spot and remained strong in the sub-$100 (approximately Rs. 6,500) price segment, which IDC claims contribute to at least four-fifths of the company's overall volume. Recent launches including the Intex Aqua 4G+ also helped the company to gain a small initial volume.
Lava and Lenovo were other brands which made it to the top 5 in the Indian smartphone market. IDC notes that Lava's recent investments on local manufacturing helped it to gain numbers while Lenovo along with Motorola continued to record strong shipments via their online channel partners as well as sales of the A6000 and A7000 handsets. Lava with 7 percent market share stood at fourth while Lenovo with 6 percent market share stood fifth.
IDC stressed that the growth in the smartphone market was boosted by brands using online retail or e-commerce website to "penetrate the market".
The report adds that Chinese vendors have tripled their shipments year-on-year in India, and doubled them quarter-on-quarter. Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei, and Gionee accounted for 12 percent of the total smartphone market in the second quarter, doubling market share from a year ago. Lenovo (alongside Motorola) and Xiaomi brands that saw most of their sales via online channels.
IDC says Chinese smartphone manufacturers have been targeting the Indian market since the Chinese market began slowing down, and apart from online retailers, the focus on budget 4G handsets has paid off. There are significant differences between the two markets however, IDC points out. While almost one-fifth of the smartphones sold in China in the past quarter were in the sub-US$100 segment, 50 percent of all smartphones shipments in India during the same period were in this price segment. It added that unlike China, the Indian consumer will not make a quick switch to the smartphone, so vendors should prepare for the "long haul." Coming to Apple's vastly different shares in the two markets, IDC pointed at the 19 Apple Stores in China at present, compared to none in India. Samsung's high-end smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, were also a larger contributor to sales in China, compared to India.
IDC expects the Indian smartphone market to maintain a double digit growth rate in the segment over the next few years citing "people switching to smartphones and gradually upgrade to 4G smartphones" as major drivers. It says India will surpass the US as the second largest smartphone market in 2017.
Commenting on the role of online retailers, Kiran Kumar, Research Manager with IDC India said, "eTailers (online retailer) have opened additional avenues for growth for many vendors in India, who would have otherwise struggled to get a hold in the complex distribution network. The share of smartphone shipments through etailers increased for most of the key vendors in Q2."
Adding further, Kiranjeet Kaur, Research Manager with IDC's Asia/Pacific Mobile Phone team said, "Key to the success of the Chinese vendors has been popular flash sales through online players such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon. At the same time, they also focused on bringing more 4G phones at affordable US$100-150 price points which is left unattended by Indian and global vendors".
The report compared both Indian and Chinese smartphone markets which offer a huge consumer base though possess a few differences. It added that almost one-fifth of the smartphones sold in China were sub-US$100 while almost 50 percent units shipped in India were of the same price category. "The high-end Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge had a small contribution to the total Samsung smartphone sales in India, but a considerably larger contribution in China," notes the report.