Lockdown-hit India logs 4% growth in Q1 handset shipments, Xiaomi on top

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) A steep annual decline in the month of March (-19 per cent) due to COVID-19 nationwide lockdown restricted the overall growth of the India smartphone shipments to just 4 per cent (year-on-year) in the first quarter this year, with a little over 31 million units, a new report said on Friday.

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi managed to beat the COVID-19 blues in India in the January-March period, registering its highest market share – at 30 per cent in terms of shipments – since Q1 2018, according to Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service.

Vivo with 17 per cent and Samsung at 16 per cent settled with the second and third spot in the first quarter, respectively.

According to Counterpoint, any signs of recovery will likely only start from the third quarter onwards, saying “overall smartphone shipments will decline by 10 per cent for the full calendar year”.

“The COVID-19 effect on India was relatively mild until mid-March. However, economic activities declined as people save money in expectation of an extended period of uncertainty and an almost complete lockdown,” said Prachir Singh, Senior Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research.

“Further, with the social distancing norms, factories will be running at lower capacities even after the lockdown is lifted. Consumer demand will have a larger impact on smartphone sales, as people will focus on saving and, therefore, limit discretionary purchases,” Singh noted.

Vivo with 17 per cent and Samsung at 16 per cent were the second and third player, respectively.

Realme with 14 per cent share was the fastest growing brand (overall 119 per cent) during the quarter, followed by OPPO (over 83 per cent), Apple (over 79 per cent) and Transsion (more than 78 per cent).

Xiaomi’s success “was driven by the strong performance of its Redmi Note 8 series”.

Vivo grew 40 per cent in Q1 2020 driven by strong performance Y series models.

Vivo exited the quarter with low inventory which helps the brand have a good command over its market planning and new launches. However, its flagship V series launch was delayed as a result of COVID-19.

Samsung’s shipments were driven by its upgraded A and M series (A51, A20s, A30s, and M30s).

The second quarter (Q2) is going to be real challenging as almost all smartphone manufacturing has been suspended since the lockdown started from March 24.

Shilpi Jain, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research stressed that smartphones should be considered as essential items during the lockdown as people are dependent on them as a primary mode of communication.

“We believe that sales should be allowed through online channels or at least adopting an Online to Offline (O2O) model. This is happening in Europe and the USA where online channels still remain in service,” she said.

For original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), a lot of work will be needed to restart operations once the lockdown is lifted.

This will range from managing existing inventory across all distributor and retail touchpoints and supporting retailers sell-through older inventory.

–IANS

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