‘Indian smartphone market fell 1.7% in 2020’

IDC predicts upgrades driven growth

While the Indian smartphone market declined by 1.7% in 2020, it is expected to witness high single-digit growth in the current year, mainly driven by customers upgrading their devices, according to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

“The India smartphone market exited 2020 at 150 million units, a 1.7% year-on-year decline. stay-at-home mandates, remote work, remote education, travel restrictions, and manufacturing shutdowns led to a sluggish H1’20 (-26% y-o-y decline), particularly impacting 2Q20,” IDC said.

However, as markets gradually reopened, the smartphone market saw recovery in the second half of 2020 with 19% growth, as lockdowns and restrictions rendered an urgent need for devices supporting activities such as entertainment, work from home, and remote learning, resulting in more devices per household, and leading to a resurgence in demand for consumer devices including smartphones, consumer notebooks, and tablets.

While smartphone shipments for the full year 2020 remained below pre-pandemic levels, IDC believes a stronger market acceleration in 2021 will be led by upgraders, it said.

“The rebound of the smartphone market in the latter half of 2020 underscores the importance of devices in our day-to-day lives. In 2021, IDC expects the smartphone market to grow in high single-digit YoY, driven majorly by upgrading consumers, in the mid-range segment and affordable 5G offerings,” Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Client Devices & IPDS, IDC India, said, adding that the revamped offline channel play is anticipated, to bring back growth in the very important brick and mortar counters for long term sustainability.

As per the report, the online channel outpaced the overall market, growing by 12% annually with a 48% market share in 2020. However, in the pre-Diwali weeks of October and November, retail footfall gradually picked up the pace and the offline channel registered 5% YoY growth in 4Q20.

Interestingly, 5G smartphone shipments crossed 3 million in 2020, with Chinese OEMs rolling out aggressively-priced devices through 2020, including Xiaomi’s Mi 10i at less than $250 price point. But adoption was limited by higher prices and the lack of a 5G network, which is expected to start to roll out in late 2021 or early 2022.

“As more 5G devices enter in 2021, the ASP [average selling price] for smartphones is expected to rise. IDC expects vendors to launch 5G devices at multiple price points backed by aggressive promotions, as 5G currently remains a novelty rather than a necessity to most,” Upasana Joshi, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India, said.

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