Smartphone adoption grows in India

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One in five or 20.8% of people living in India are expected to own a smartphone at the end of 2017. That’s according to new research from eMarketer.

Annual growth rates are going to remain in the double digits until 2019, and then may drop to below 10% in 2020.

Figures by Gartner suggest that smartphone sales may have accounted for just 50% of total mobile phone sales in India during the last quarter of 2016. That’s still way below the US (96%) or China (96%) as well as developing countries such as Indonesia (68%).

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In India, cheaper mobile handsets are still favoured over more expensive and data-hungry smartphones.

Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, says:

“With the slowdown in sales in major markets, including the U.S., China and mature Western Europe, India represents the largest opportunity because it is the second-largest mobile phone market after China.”

However, eMarketer points out that as network services improve, consumers are likely to swap to smartphones. For example, Reliance Jio, the LTE mobile network operator, rolled out lower-priced 4G services late last year, which prompted swift consumer adoption and has forced competitors to drop their prices.

In addition, Reliance Jio reportedly sold 2.6 million low-cost 4G smartphones in Q4 2016. It evidently comes down to pricing.

Gartner also points out that the elimination of the 500 and 1,000 rupee has sparked increased adoption for digital currency, which in turn has promoted a push for smartphones. The country is likely to see an increase in mobile wallet solutions.

However, leading smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung have seen their market share slip in the country, from 21.2% in 2015 down to 17.3% in 2016.

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Gupta adds:

“With an exclusive focus on the market from the device manufacturers, we expect more customized smartphones to come to market and remain key to win in this highly competitive market.”