Indian Handset Brands Grab 14% Mobile Market Share

Indian mobile-handset brands strengthened their presence in the domestic handset market in 2009-10, adding up to 14% market share by revenue, according to the V&D100 Indian Telecom Survey conducted by CyberMedia telecom journal Voice&Data. This is up sharply from about 3-4% total share by these brands in the previous year. The handsets in question are locally branded models sourced from manufacturers in China or Taiwan.

The Indian brands included Micromax (4.1% handset market share by revenue), Spice (3.9%), Karbonn (3%), Lava (1.1%), Lemon (1%) and Maxx(0.9%). Compared with last year, these Indian brands gained a cumulative 10 percentage points of market share in the very competitive Indian market, and Samsung gained 7 points, as Nokia lost 12 percentage points share. The Voice&Data100 annual survey on handset is based on the revenue of telecom equipment suppliers, including GSM and CDMA handset vendors.

Low prices for perceived high-end features are the reasons for the big gain by these brands. You get all-QWERTY Blackberry look alikes complete with trackball, and even dual-SIM phones, for Rs 5,000. We saw demand rising for dual-SIM phones last year, but the market leaders had few offerings there. And while Nokia has many low-cost models, they are relatively sparse on features. The local brands may fall short in applications and functionality, user interface and experience, and quality of construction, solidity and robustness compared to the global brands.

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Handset major Nokia remained the market leader with 52% share, despite a 15% revenue dip to Rs 14,100 crore (down from Rs 16,567 crore in 2008-09). The Finnish giant’s share was gobbled up by the Indian-brand handsets, and by Samsung. Nokia launched 22 devices during the year, selling them though over 200,000 retail outlets across the country (with 45% in rural India), and supporting them with over 700 service centers across 400 towns and cities. But its services thrust diluted its focus on handsets.

Samsung remained the second largest handset vendor, with 17.4% market share, followed by LG at 5.9%. Sony Ericsson slipped badly last year, with very few options in the low- and mid-range handset segments.

Around 108 million mobile phones were sold in the country during 2009-10, adding up to Rs 27,000 crore in sales, up from Rs 25,910 crore the previous year.

And growing even more than the handset numbers in 2009-10 was the number of mobile subscribers. The country added 192 million mobile subscribers in the fiscal. A large number of subscribers have more than one SIM card, and an increasing number are in fact using dual-SIM phones.

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