Indian Smartphone Market Declined For the First Time in 2020: IDC

Despite the best quarter of smartphone sales in the 2020 festive season, the Indian smartphone market saw an overall decline for the first time.

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The Indian smartphone market saw an overall decline in the volume of shipments for the first time, owing to the extraordinary market conditions that ruled 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic and its range of impact, including a pause period in mobile manufacturing and the economic turn-down, caused a significant decline in smartphone shipment numbers through the first half of 2020. However, despite work from home, remote education and strong smartphone demands through the second half of the year, the Indian smartphone market couldn’t seemingly recover from the shipment downturn in its entirety.

According to the IDC report, the Indian smartphone market declined by 26 percent year on year in the first half of 2020. In comparison, the second half of 2020 saw a 19 percent increase in shipments, annually. The total shipment volume stood at 150 million units, down by 1.7 percent from 2019. In terms of a company-wise breakdown, Xiaomi and Samsung, India’s two biggest smartphone vendors, both saw overall annual declines despite multiple launches, offers and promotions towards the second half of the year. With 41 million devices shipped, Xiaomi stands at the top of the Indian smartphone market with a 27 percent market share and 6 percent decline in shipment volume. Samsung, meanwhile, shipped 29.7 million devices to capture 20 percent of the market and account for a 4 percent volume decline.

Interestingly, the other three OEMs in the top five in India, Vivo, Realme and Oppo, all registered overall annual growths. Vivo shipped 26.7 million devices in 2020 to capture 18 percent of the market and clock 12 percent growth. Realme shipped 19.2 million smartphones for 13 percent of the market and clocked a 19 percent growth (the highest growth among the top five smartphone makers in India), and Oppo shipped 16.5 million devices to capture 11 percent of the market, a register a slim 1 percent growth. The rest 11 percent of the market, according to IDC, registered a 23 percent decline in overall shipments.

Despite the decline, smartphone manufacturers will take heart from this rebound of fortunes towards the second half of 2020, and hope for a strong 2021 to follow. Navkendar Singh, director of research for mobile devices at IDC, said in the report, “The rebound of the smartphone market in the latter half of 2020 underscores the importance of devices in our day-to-day lives. In 2021, IDC expects the smartphone market to grow in high single-digit YoY, driven majorly by upgrading consumers, in the mid-range segment and affordable 5G offerings (~US$250). Also, revamped offline channel play is anticipated, to bring back growth in the very important brick and mortar counters for long term sustainability.”

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if smartphone vendors continue to register the growth in shipments that they saw in India towards the end of 2020. While the starting and middle months of the year do register slower sales, the lack of the pandemic’s peak impact across economies can be a factor in making 2021 a more successful year for smartphones, and put the Indian market back on the growth trajectory again.

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