OnePlus, the premium smartphone brand from Chinese manufacturer BBK Electronics, saw its India sales double during the third quarter (July to September), thanks to the launch of India’s cheapest 5G smartphone, OnePlus Nord.
The phone, priced at around Rs 28,000, helped the brand double its sales in India with a growth of 104% during July-September this year compared to the corresponding three months of 2019, said Cyber Media Research (CMR) Mobile Review for the third quarter of 2020.
The tech industry tracker said the Nord model did “phenomenally well” in India. However, the market research firm did not specify the share of Nord in OnePlus’ total shipments. Nevertheless, the model is estimated to have accounted for close to 80% of the brand’s shipments during the period.
“The OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro accounted 16% of its Q3 shipments,” CMR said.
There are only a handful of 5G smartphones in India, and none that is priced below the Rs 30,000 mark, except for OnePlus Nord.
Not surprisingly, within the 5G market, OnePlus contributed three fourths of all shipments in July-September, CMR said.
The second highlight of the third quarter market review was the sudden fall in the sales of Xiaomi smartphones.
Xiaomi, which has been ruling as India’s No.1 smartphone brand for several years, saw its share fall to 22% in Jul-Sep 2020, from 26% during the same period last year.
This also resulted in the loss of the No.1 spot by Xiaomi to Samsung. The Korean brand’s share improved only slightly, from 22% last year to 23% this year, but it was enough to help it clinch the top spot after several years.
It should be noted that these numbers reflect shipments — which basically refers to the movement of stocks from the brand into its distribution network — and do not necessarily reflect retail sales. However, shipments — which are easier to track — are a lead indicator of sales.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest market share — in terms of smartphone manufacturing — continues to be enjoyed by BBK Electronics, which has four brands in India — Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus and Realme.
Three out of these four brands — Oppo, Vivo and Realme — together accounted for 41% of the total market, making it likely that BBK controlled about 45% of the total smartphone market in India (see chart on top).
Another manufacturer that saw sharp growth in Q3 this year was China-based Transsion Group. The group has three major brands in India — Itel (smartphone and feature phone), Infinix and Tecno.
Together, these three brands grew 34% in the smartphone segment, with Infinix growing 354% thanks to new launches like Smart 4 Plus and Hot 10.
Tecno grew 95% YoY with new model launches like Spark Go 2020. The third brand, itel, grew 143% in Smartphone segment and 5% in feature phone. itel was also No.1 in the feature phone segment (see chart below).
Transsion made a lot of inroads in Tier II and Tier III cities, CMR said.
itel is India’s No.1 feature phone brand, enjoying a market share of around 19%, according to the third quarter market review report.
Apple shipments were up 67%, thanks to demand for iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone 11.
“Both the models together contributed 91% of its shipments in Q3 2020. On the heels of the iPhone 12 launch, Apple is on track to have its best year yet,” CMR said.
LG smartphone shipments grew 81%.
HIGHEST EVER SALES
The three months saw some disruption in the supply chain, especially for Chinese brands like Xiaomi, due to tensions at the Sino-Indian border.
However, despite that, the number of smartphones shipped in the July-September period was the highest ever on record, with a 14% growth, CMR said.
“The smartphone market grew on the back of attractive pre-festive season launches, aggressive marketing, and attractive promotions and discounts by all the leading smartphone brands in the run-up to the all-important festive season,” it said.
Amit Sharma, Analyst-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG) at CMR said smartphone demand was influenced by COVID-19, which drove behavioral shifts like work from home and remote learning.
“In Q3 2020, the smartphone market offset the ongoing pandemic-related challenges in H1 2020 and grew handsomely,” Sharma said.
“Across price bands, smartphone brands unveiled competitively priced strong offerings. We estimate the smartphone demand to outstrip other product categories during the festive climate, despite cautious discretionary spending being low.”
Much of the increased momentum seemed to have been captured by e-commerce players, chipped in Shipra Sinha, Analyst-Industry Intelligence Group.
“During Q3 2020, the eCommerce Platforms increased their reach across India, by tying up with local stores. Consumers from Aspirational India, including Tier-II and Tier-III cities and towns, including first-time ecommerce shoppers, looked at shopping online, aided by the option to shop in vernacular languages. We anticipate online to drive >70% of the overall sales this festive season,” she added.
Amit Sharma too was bullish on the prospects of e-commerce in this segment, even though offline too will benefit from the removal of lock-down restrictions.
“As the economy opens up further, we believe offline sales will pick up steam in the coming quarters. That said, online will continue to drive smartphone sale volumes,” he said.
“The nascent digital economy in India would continue to grow further in the post-pandemic era. For the smartphone industry, this posits a greater opportunity to grow into new pockets of growth,” he added.