A vendor uses a smartphone at a wholesale stall selling mobile phone accessories (Representational image)
A vendor uses a smartphone at a wholesale stall selling mobile phone accessories (Representational image) | Dhiraj Singh | Bloomberg

New Delhi: Data on online smartphone shopping has shown that Indians bought 17 lakh more Chinese devices this October than they did last year. This despite calls to boycott Chinese products and support ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ amid the ongoing tensions between India and China at the Line of Actual Control and the Indian government banning over 200 Chinese apps.

Tech market analyst firm IDC, that looked at both the online and offline sales figures, said:  “… India’s smartphone market registered a massive year-over-year (YoY) growth of 42% in October, shipping 21 million units. The growth was driven by multiple online sale festivals and continuing pent up demand from 3Q20.”

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An executive at a leading smartphone market analyst firm, who requested anonymity, shared estimates for how many phones the top fives mobile brands in India sold online during October 2019 and October 2020.

Of these, four are Chinese — Xiaomi, Vivo, realme and Oppo.

In October 2019, these Chinese brands sold an estimated 46.07 lakh smartphones. Fast forward a year, and the sales jumped by nearly 17 lakh to 63.01 lakh smartphones.

These numbers were calculated based on the figures shared by the smartphone market analyst.

Graphic by Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint
Graphic by Ramandeep Kaur | ThePrint

The estimates show that consumer trends didn’t take a hit from the boycott calls that emerged in June after 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a violent clash with Chinese soldiers. Among those supporting the boycott was Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan. In June, the government banned the first tranche of Chinese apps, adding to the list over the months.

As it stands, October saw two prominent and heavily promoted online sales from Amazon and Flipkart to coincide with the festive shopping season.

While Amazon held its ‘Great Indian Festival sale’ from 16 October to 13 November, offering discounts up to 70 per cent, Flipkart held its flagship ‘Big Billion Days sale’ from 16 to 21 October.

This year’s ‘Great Indian Festival’ was one of the longest Amazon has held, according to a Times of India report. Flipkart said it saw double the number of customers visiting its mobile category during the sale.

Also read: India working to restrict Chinese goods, investments since before Galwan, Covid: Officials

Estimates in line with market trend

Adwait Mardikar, an analyst at a tech market intelligence firm Canalys, told ThePrint that the figures for October 2019 and October 2020 appear to be fairly logical based on the sales data for the third quarters of 2019 and 2020.

“Third quarter is the months of June, July, and September. It is reasonable to assume that not too much has changed in terms of purchasing decisions from June-September moving to October,” he added.

Analyst firms typically publicly share smartphone shipment figures for every quarter, but not the sales figures for every month. In some cases, the monthly smartphone sales figures are a paid feature analyst firms offer to paying clients.

Shipments and sales figures differ since ‘shipments’ are the number of devices sent to retail channels to be sold to end consumers. Not all shipped merchandise gets sold, according to a Business Insider report.

Also read: Reader View: India depends on China in many ways, to disregard that isn’t a smart decision

How the top 5 brands compare 

Analyst firms IDC, Canalys and Counterpoint Research all list Xiaomi, Samsung, realme, Vivo and Oppo as the top 5 brands in India that together corner 88-94 per cent of the country’s smartphone market share.

Of this, the four Chinese brands — Xiaomi, realme, Vivo and Oppo — account for 69-73 per cent of the market share, according to the latest numbers from the three analyst firms.

However the estimated market share of each brand differs marginally from one firm’s analysis to the next.

For instance, Canalys says Xiaomi held top market share in the third quarter of 2020 with 26.1 per cent, followed by Samsung at 20.4%.

Counterpoint Research, though, shows Samsung as the top brand in Q3 this year with 24 per cent of the market share, followed by Xiaomi with 23 per cent.

Also read: Only 4 out of 10 Indians won’t buy Chinese phone, finds survey conducted before Galwan clash


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