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AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool
The craze.
BOOMING

Indians are loving their “Made in India” phones

By Itika Sharma Punit

Smartphone sales in India are on fire.

Asia’s third-largest economy saw a 23% year-on-year increase in smartphone sales in July-September 2016 (Q3), way higher than the global growth of just 5%, according to data from Counterpoint Research. The market intelligence firm did not specify the exact number of smartphones sold during the quarter.

Indians continued with their preference for locally-made devices over imported ones: three out of four smartphones sold during the quarter were manufactured in India, Counterpoint’s data revealed.

“The demand for smartphones (in India) is being fueled by the growing importance of being uber-connected, which is further catalyzed by the rollout of LTE (long-term evolution) networks,” Karn Chauhan, research analyst at Counterpoint Research, said. Usage of LTE has picked up over the recent months due to the launch of Reliance Jio, which introduced the the world’s cheapest LTE data rates.

India is currently the world’s second-largest smartphone market with over 220 million users. However, penetration of the device is still low, with just around 30% of the total 700 million mobile phone users owning smartphones.

Market share

The Indian smartphone market is dominated by South Korea’s Samsung, but domestic manufacturers have been catching up lately. Like in the previous quarter, local brands Micromax and Reliance Jio were among the top five smartphone sellers in India during Q3.

“A bulk of the first-time smartphone users were mostly using Indian or Samsung-branded smartphones but the aggressive entry and growth of Chinese brands have prompted most of these users to upgrade to affordable but better spec smartphones,” said Pavel Naiya, an analyst at Counterpoint Research.

Smartphone sales during the last quarter of the year may be even higher, as the festive season fuels demand.

Flipkart sold 2.5 million smartphones during its five-day Big Billion Day sale earlier this month, which means in less than a week, the company’s customers bought far more smartphones than the total number of mobile phone users in countries like Bhutan and Mauritius.