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Finally! Samsung dethrones Nokia as India’s biggest mobile brand

After fighting it out for a decade, Samsung finally dethroned Nokia in the Indian mobile phone market — rising to number one with a 20.3% market share in the March quarter compared to Nokia’s 17.6%. Micromax came third in terms of shipments.

Samsung’s victory was the result of a sharp increase in its sales during the first quarter of the year. Samsung’s share rose from 15.6% share in the previous quarter.

Interestingly, Nokia was dethroned from the number one position despite its overall share increasing from 16.16% in the December quarter to 17.6% in the March quarter, simply because Samsung grew faster.

“Nokia’s slip down was inevitable as the vendor’s smartphone portfolio came very late and hasn’t been able to impress the potential customer base to a large extent,” said Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst, CMR Telecoms Practice.

“At the same time, Samsung continues to serve all the price segments of the market very well. With ‘Asha’ portfolio, Nokia tried to create a new segment of smart featurephones and that did help Nokia to record an impressive share in the featurephones segment. But as newer companies, particularly the domestic brands, came out with disruptive propositions, the concept of smart featurephone seems to be dying.”

In the smartphone market, Samsung has long been the no 1, and it increased its domination in March quarter to 43.2% market share from 40.4%. Similarly, Micromax increased its share from 15.7% to 17.5%, while Karbonn fell from 11.1% to 5.2%.

Nokia was not in the top three, despite having introduced its Lumia brand of smartphones.

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“In hindsight, it may be said that Nokia did not capitalise on the gains from the strategy of creating the new sub-segment of smart featurephones, by not making the next upgrade available for such consumers,” the analyst added.

“However, this opening was very well exploited by its more nimble-footed competitors, who have witnessed an upsurge in consumers buying their smartphone offerings. In a sense, Nokia’s smart featurephones really helped other brands push up the sales of smartphones in India.”

Tarun Pathak, Analyst, Devices, CMR Telecoms Practice, said it was too early to write off Windows phones.

“Going forward we can expect the India smartphone OS war to heat up as Microsoft recently waived the Windows Mobile licence fee for devices less than 9 inches screen size. This is expected to help bring more Windows Phone 8.1 device offerings into the market from OEMs who want to use Windows Mobile as the underlying OS. It will be interesting to watch how consumers in India react to the Windows Mobile offerings from vendors like Micromax, Karbonn, Lava and others, who are likely to launch their Windows Phone 8.1 devices shortly,” he said.

“The India smartphones market is growing at a significant pace and consumer buying patterns and preferences are continuously evolving. The next wave of demand will come from consumers who are data hungry and want to use their device for wide range of activities. Hence, in such a scenario those vendors will be successful who focus on providing a great device experience to users, rather than simply marketing their offerings on the basis of certain set of specifications,” he added.

According to CMR’s India Monthly Mobile Handsets Market Review, 1Q CY 2014, May 2014 release, India recorded 58.9 million mobile handset shipments during 1Q (January-March) 2014. During the same period, 14.5 million smartphones were shipped in the country.

The India smartphones market during 1Q CY 2014 saw a marginal growth in shipments of 1.9% over 4Q CY 2013, taking the contribution of smartphones to overall shipments to 24.6%. Further, as many as 68.3% of the smartphones shipped in the country during 1Q CY 2014 were 3G-enabled smartphones.

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