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Chinese Smartphone Companies and Their footprint In Indian Market Be it Oppo, Vivo or Xiaomi, all have maintained the top spot in sales and distribution of smartphones in India. And, these Chinese brands are giving Apple and Samsung a run for their money

By Ashmita Bhogal

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Chinese smartphones have been dominating the Indian market for quite some time now. Companies such as Oppo, Xiaomi, Realme are neck to neck with the Korean smartphone giant Samsung and the US' Apple.

When we talk about the worldwide smartphone shipment, in 2020, Samsung aced it with 255.6 million units sold, Apple iPhone came in second with 207.1 million units sold, followed by Huawei which sold 188.5 million units, Xiaomi which sold 149.6 million units and Oppo which sold 115.1 million units. These numbers reveal these brands came a long way since the time they entered in the global market.

Chinese smartphone and India

The main reason behind the stellar sales of these Chinese smartphones is the price range they come in and the affordability they offer to lure the customers from all sorts of spectrum.

Xiaomi offered its first 5G phone Redmi (k305G) in first quarter of 2020 with an affordable pricing of $300. Apple tried to follow the footsteps of Xiaomi and other companies and launched its iPhone 12 mini at $699, Samsung tried to do the same when it released "A' series, a mid-range phone series in the price range of $279 to $499.

Another reason is that while the big smartphone giants such as Apple and Samsung offer only premium and ultra-premium phones which they release once a year, other companies offer mid-range and budget phones with a wide array of features which are quite similar to the features of iPhone and Samsung.

Let's take a situation. If a person is provided with better substitute at a reasonable price then he or she would never buy these Chinese Phones. India being a developing country, wants value for money. Which means that when Chinese phones offer good quality specs, superior build quality, seamless display and cameras that now come with lenses from Hasselblad, Zeiss and Leica; Indians would undoubtedly buy these products as these companies are offering it for INR 25,000-30,000 which doesn't affect the pocket of a person who has a tight budget but wants all the features in one phone.

Lack of Indian smartphones is also a feature which plays a big role for the sales of Chinese smartphones. Till a few years back, Indian companies such as Micromax and Lava offered smartphones but they were not quite up to the mark, though they did offer some good feature phones.

Ease of marketing is another key reason which attracts China to do business in India. If we compare smartphone marketing in the US, a major carrier services like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile etc., offer smartphones with attached services, which means if you want to make it big in the US you have got to maintain a strong relationship with carrier services, which is a very complex and expensive process.

Unlike US, in India it is very easy for Chinese companies to make their mark in the market as most of the sales take place through small stores in the cities or big retail chains like Chroma or Reliance Digital which makes it quite easier for them to do business.

Lately, there has been a new trend in the market which is exclusive online marketing of phones; like OnePlus partnering with Amazon for their services, Realme and Motorola partnering with Flipkart for their respective services. Which in turn makes it quite easy for phone manufacturers to lure customers and earn the right profit. According to Counterpoint Research, in the second quarter of 2020 even though the pandemic hit the world, India registered highest ever online sales recorded at 45 per cent followed by the UK at 39 per cent and China at 34 per cent which shows the impact of online marketing in India.

Despite the country championing Digital India, a huge part of the population cannot afford a decent smartphone. According to a survey done by Pew Research Centre in 2015, only 17 per cent of the Indian population uses smartphone. This digital divide benefits Chinese companies as still there is a huge room to grow.

It all leaves us to one point that we cannot deny the fact that Chinese phone companies have left a huge footprint in the Indian market, be it manufacturing of the phones or sales, China and its products are here to stay. Which is made clear from the fact that in second quarter of 2021, Xiaomi topped the shipment share with 28 per cent in India.

Ashmita Bhogal

Junior writer

Student at Banasthali Vidyapith, Intern at Entrepreneur India.

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