Chinese smartphones find success in India

By Xie Jun Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/19 23:23:39

The competitive market is still young and full of potential: experts


Attendees wait in line to receive free Xiaomi Mi Bands following a launch event in New Delhi, India. Photo: CFP

Attendees wait in line to receive free Xiaomi Mi Bands following a launch event in New Delhi, India. Photo: CFP

Chinese mobile phone brand Xiaomi said Wednesday they set a selling record in India in October, and they aren't the only Chinese smartphone brand that has found some success in the competitive Indian market, which experts say is still young and has plenty of potential for Chinese mobile phone makers to explore.

According to a statement Xiaomi sent to the Global Times on Wednesday, Xiaomi "set a record" by selling more than 1 million smartphones in India from October 1 to Tuesday. The statement also noted that Xiaomi has become the third-largest smartphone vendor in India's top 30 cities with a market share of 8.4 percent, citing statistics from market research firm IDC.

"Indian has become our largest market outside of the Chinese mainland... we will be able to capture the largest market share in India within three to five years," the statement read.

Vivo, another domestic smartphone brand, also aims to expand its business in India, by tripling its monthly production as well as starting online sales, according to reports from Indian daily newspaper the Economic Times in September and October.

Data from the cctime.com in August showed that Chinese smartphone brands accounted for more than 25 percent of India's market in terms of shipment by the end of June, up from 19 percent at the end of 2015.

"As China's mobile phone market is somewhat saturated, it's a right choice that domestic brands have started to explore the gigantic Indian market, which is full of opportunities as many people in India still do not own a smartphone. Our brands are looking into the future of India's mobile phone market," Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based independent tech expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Gaining a foothold in India

According to a report from Huffington Post India in May, smartphone shipments in India hit 100 million units in 2015, with a large chunk coming from 19 Chinese phone manufacturers.

Those manufacturers included well-known brands like Vivo, Oppo, Huawei, Meizu, Xiaomi and Lenovo  as well as brands that are relatively unknown to domestic customers, an employee who works for the Indian subsidiary of a domestic mobile phone maker, told the Global Times on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

During a visit in India from October 9 to Monday, a Global Times reporter saw advertisements for domestic mobile phone brands like Xiaomi and Letv in New Delhi, Goa and Mumbai.

At an electronic commodity exchange market in Mumbai, the Global Times reporter also saw a number of Chinese mobile phone brands like Vivo and Xiaomi for sale.

Several Indian residents (including a taxi driver) also showed their Chinese mobile phones to the Global Times.

Charanjeet Singh Arora, an Indian entrepreneur who is now running a business in China, told the Global Times Wednesday that he thinks Oppo is doing particularly good business in India.

"Many of my friends in India use its smartphones," he said.

Fierce competition

However, the mobile phone market in India is not a blank canvas, and Chinese smartphone makers have to face competition not only from international mobile phone giants like Apple, which had a market share of about 12 percent in the Indian market in terms of shipment by the end of June, but also from local Indian mobile phone makers like Lava, Micromax and a variety of smaller brands.

There's a big gap between Chinese mobile phone brands and local Indian brands in terms of quality and services, according to the anonymous employee.

"Most Indian mobile phone brands are cheap, of low quality and have a very low profit margin. Therefore, when Chinese brands entered the Indian market, they exerted a great pressure on those local players," he noted.

The Chinese mobile phone makers are also taking measures to gain a firmer foothold in the Indian market.

"They have different strategies, with Xiaomi focusing on online sales development and Vivo expanding offline sales. But competition will always exist," the employee said.

Liu, the tech expert, said that Chinese mobile phones are cheaper than brands like Apple, but they are of high quality.

Also, Chinese brands are actively broadening sales channels in India by cooperating with local agencies and communications corporations, helping them broaden market share in the country.

"I believe that sooner or later, a Chinese mobile phone maker will become the largest smart phone seller in India," Liu noted.

Wang Cong contributed to the story



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