Xiaomi tops India smartphone market in Q1

Xiaomi shipped 3.5 million Redmi Note 5A smartphones in Q1.
Xiaomi shipped 3.5 million Redmi Note 5A smartphones in Q1.

Building on a momentum of 155 percent annual shipment growth in India last year, Xiaomi started Q1 at the top with a whopping nine million plus units to snag 31 percent market share, according to Canalys.

In the process, the China smartphone maker has widened its lead over Samsung, which shipped just under 7.5 million smartphones for a 24 percent growth.

Oppo was third with 2.8 million units and Vivo fourth with 2.1 million units.

Overall, the smartphone market in India grew at eight percent to 29.5 million units in Q1.

“Xiaomi is becoming a force to be reckoned with in India. Apart from being some of the best value devices on the market, Xiaomi’s smartphones are now available in more places and in larger quantities. All in all, Xiaomi’s product and channel strategies are working,” said Ishan Dutt, Research Analyst of Canalys.

The recently launched Redmi 5, Redmi 5A and Redmi Note 5 have seen runaway success, with the Redmi 5A reaching record sales of 3.5 million in the quarter. In comparison, Samsung’s best-selling device, the J7 Nxt, shipped just 1.5 million units.

“Xiaomi is now bringing this cost disruption to TVs, another consumer market that is dominated by heavyweights, such as Samsung, Sony and LG. The move will add much needed equity to its brand and will positively affect its longevity in the market,” said Dutt.

The market also continues to consolidate, with smaller vendors finding it extremely difficult to succeed in the face of Xiaomi’s growing prominence.

The top four vendors accounted for about three quarter of all smartphone shipment to India.

“India remains a huge investment for any smartphone brand. For smaller vendors, such as Gionee and Lenovo, the pressure on profitability has forced them to relook at their Indian strategies,” said Rushabh Doshi, Research Manager of Canalys.

Lenovo’s smartphone shipments were just short of a million units, falling by more than 60 percent year on year, while Gionee shipped an all-time low of 150,000 units with shipment down 90 percent year on year.

“Local production, offline channel expansion, and huge advertising and marketing costs are weighing down the smartphone vendors. And India’s inability to move quickly to a high-value market has only hurt them further,” said Doshi, who pointed out that the ongoing consolidation is not good for the channel.

“India’s massive independent retail channel has always relied on intense competition to negotiate higher margins and marketing funds. But these funds and margins are vanishing as the competition continues to wane. Adding to this dilemma are online retailers, such as Flipkart and Amazon, which remain committed to increasing their share in the smartphone channel. All in all, 2018 will be a trying year for smartphone retailers in India,” added Doshi.