Indian market threw 41 phone-makers out in 2018 as it is settling down on fewer brands

Smartphones lying down besides a laptop

The smartphone market in India is the only market that grew exponentially. All the other major countries saw a dip in shipments and sales but India is a country which grew and how. There are many reasons for this and one is that India has just matured as a market and the second reason which is most important is that there are still millions of Indians without a smartphone. The metro cities and the tier 2 and 3 cities are majorly exploited by the smartphone companies and this is the minority of the population in India.

To strike you with another fact, there are 500 million Indians who use feature phones even in this day and age. When the world is moving on to flatter and larger screens with no bezels, India is still trying to escape the reality of feature phones. This is why companies which make feature phones still exist in India. Another reason why the companies cannot tackle this is that people are not literate enough in the deeper groves of India to understand how the smartphone works. So no matter how much Marcus Brownlee says that this phone is better than that, these people won’t care, not that they know who Marcus Brownlee is.

That said, there are five major players in the Indian market, Xiaomi, the leading company when it comes to smartphones, Samsung, the fallen king of smartphones in India, OnePlus, the rising star, Apple, the phone-makers for the riches, and Oppo, the innovation master. These are the five companies along with the likes of Vivo, Itel, Micromax, and Motorola have dominated the Indian market to such an extent that smaller companies have succumbed to the hyper-competition amongst these massive brands.

There are around 200 smartphone makers in India, yes 200 and to shock you with another fact, there were around 300 smartphone makers before the arrival of Chinese companies. This is how dense and diverse the market is. The problem lies with the domination of the giants such as Xiaomi and Samsung. The duo shares more than 50% of the market in India and makes all kinds of phones; from premium to budget.

Then there is OnePlus, which is a flagship killer in a true sense. It gives you everything that a flagship phone has and at a price which is not a flagship like. There are other companies which are trying to be like OnePlus but they have a lot of loyal consumer base in India and people are shifting from Samsung and Apple to OnePlus because of the quality their device possesses.

In 2018, over 40 brands shuttered in India. They decided to give up because of the hyper-competition. The number is already reached 10 in 2019 and we are just 40 days into the year. To that number of 41 exits in India, there were only 15 entrants. In 2017, this number of exits was down to 13 and entries were at 9 companies. In 2016, it was 5 exits and 13 entries while in 2015 it was only 2 exits and 15 entries.

The above numbers tell us that the Indian smartphone market has gone from being totally unstable to unstable. As the people’s ability to accept new brands is lowering by the year and they are settling for devices they know and trust. This was not the case before, the price-sensitive market, which it still is, has now turned into a trusting and loyal market, which it wasn’t.

This is a major change and those numbers are only playing evidence to that. That said, there are going to be a lot of new entries in 2019 but it will hard for them to break the concrete base Xiaomi, Samsung and OnePlus have created in India. Unless and until they have something extraordinary up their sleeve, India is just going to throw out those companies.

-Unmesh Phule

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