NEW DELHI: India has surpassed the US to become the world's second largest smartphone market, crossing 220 million in active unique smartphone users in 2015, a year when Samsung maintained its leadership position and Apple made big strides.
"This speaks volumes for the scale India market provides for any player in the mobile connected ecosystem. India still has a long way to go as the smartphone penetration of the total potential population is still below 30%," Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research, said in a statement.
The smartphone shipments in India also grew a healthy 15% annually in the October-December quarter, and rose 23% on year to cross 100 million units milestone, the research firm said.
Apple rode the demand for smartphones and specifically for its iPhones, crossing 2 million units for the first time in a calendar year led by a strong fourth quarter, Counterpoint said.
On revenue market share basis, Apple was the third largest brand during the year with 11%, improving on its 2014 revenue share of 7%, even though it had only 2% smartphone volume share. However, the brand continues to trail Samsung and Micromax in 2015, two smartphone makers which held on to their No 1 and No 2 positions by volume market shares in 2015.
The overall mobile handset market in India, however, has contracted on a yearly basis, as transition from feature phones to smartphones gathers momentum in the country. Counterpoint Research data also suggests that the overall shipment has gone done around 3% to reach 243 million in the calendar year 2015, from 250 million in 2014.
Another report by CMR suggests that the market has gone down 9.1% on-year with 235.6 million units sold in the year. It added that smartphones, which constituted 39.8% of the total sales, grew at 18% while feature phones registered a sharp decline of 27.1% in annual shipments.
"We are witnessing a transition period for the industry from mass to niche, feature phones to smartphones, 2G and 3G to 4G, 'offline only' to hybrid, and 'imports only' to domestic manufacturing with imports," Faisal Kawoosa, lead telecoms analyst, CMR, said in a statement, adding that the change lead to contraction of the market by volume which was seen towards end of calendar year 2015.
"Once this transition is over and vendors adopt the right mix of sourcing and marketing, and develop competencies to address the emerging or niche segments rather than the mass market, we should see the market rebound," Kawoosa added.
Samsung led the overall mobile phone market and the smartphone segment during the quarter with market shares of 23.6% and 28.6%, respectively. For the full year, Samsung retained top slot with a market share of 19.8% and 25.7% in overall mobile phone market and smartphone market respectively, Counterpoint Research said.
Micromax stood at the second position with 14.3% share in the smartphone market, followed by Lenovo-Motorola combine with 11.4% share. Intex stood at fourth and fifth positions with 9.6% share and 6.8% share, respectively.
But Cybermedia Research's findings differed as it found Samsung, Micromax and Intex leading in that order, in smartphones and overall phones, a view backed by Intex which claimed the No. 3 spot in smartphones. The agency did not reveal individual market shares.
Counterpoint added that Indian smartphone demand grew strongly during the holiday season in the October-December period last year but consumer demand waned since mid-November leading to smartphone shipments decline 11% sequentially.
"However, LTE shipments grew sequentially, as more than one in two smartphone shipped was LTE capable," Pavel Naiya, research analyst at Counterpoint Research, said.