Reliance Jio’s 4G feature phone, along with attractive offers on tariff plans, has helped the company secure the top spot in the domestic handset market, with the company controlling more than one-fifth of the country’s overall mobile phone space, which includes both feature phones and smartphones. According to the latest numbers by Counterpoint Research, Jio was the overall market leader across all handset types last year with a market share of 21%.
In the feature phone segment, the company controlled an impressive 38% market share for the entire 2018 calendar year as well as for the October-December quarter. Commenting on Jio’s performance, Counterpoint’s associate director Tarun Pathak said, “Reliance Jio captured 38% of the feature phone segment in just over year with its compelling value proposition compared to normal 2G feature phones.
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Additionally, the Jio Monsoon Hungama offer focusing on upgrading 2G feature phone users helped it drive sales during the second half of 2018.” Feature phone is still an important segment in the country’s mobile phone market, Pathak said, adding, “This is the first time that the feature phone market grew faster than the smartphone market. India remains the largest market in terms of global feature phone volume. India and the Middle East are driving the feature phone market, capturing almost three-fourths of global feature phone sales in 2018. This highlights that while India is a fast-growing smartphone market, feature phones remain relevant for a large section of the population.”
In smartphones, Chinese handset maker Xiaomi controlled the domestic market in 2018 with 28% share, followed by Samsung at 24%. “Xiaomi recorded its highest-ever shipments in India during 2018. Strong product portfolio and aggressive channel strategy helped it gain market share. Additionally, in 2018, it expanded its offline reach with an increased focus on its Mi preferred partners,” Counterpoint said.
Despite losing the number one spot, Samsung still managed to grow faster than the overall smartphone market. It is now aggressively upgrading its portfolio in key price tiers to regain market share, it added. The year 2018 also created a few records in the Indian handset market.
The country’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 11% Y-o-Y crossing 330 million units for the first time ever with smartphones capturing almost 44% of the total volume. Another record was that India was the fastest-growing smartphone market in 2018. Smartphone shipments rose 10% Y-o-Y, but feature phones grew faster at 11%, driven by Jio Phone (4G feature phone). Online platforms through exclusive launches and exciting offers, including cash backs, performed well last year. Counterpoint said online share of smartphone shipments reached a record 36% during 2018, driven by a strong performance of both Flipkart and Amazon.
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