India is quickly becoming the next battleground for smartphone manufacturers. With the country now touted as the second largest smartphone market in the world, and one of the two major contributors to app revenue in recent years, these companies see it as crucial to solidify a position as the market leader in India..
Xiaomi is now that market leader, taking away the minute lead Samsung had over the Chinese company a few months ago. According to Counterpoint Research, for Q4 2017, Xiaomi barely surpassed its South Korean rival with the companies boasting a market share of 25% and 23%, respectively.
Another industry watcher, Canalys, places Samsung's market share at 25%, while Xiaomi also leads here with a 2% lead. In both cases, Xiaomi is shown as making significant strides over the last year. For example, according to Counterpoint's numbers, Xiaomi increased from 9% of all sales in Q4 of 2016 to a leading 25% in the same period for 2017.
Canalys estimates Xiaomi sold around 8.2 million units in Q4 2017, while Samsung accounted for 7.3 million sales in the same time period. Xiaomi's lead is largely attributed to its aggressive online sales, alongside an "effective channel expansion strategy" in the offline segment, according to Counterpoint's Tarun Pathak.
In an interesting twist, however, Samsung refused to accept these figures by Counterpoint and Canalys, arguing that it was still the market leader in the country and, instead, referred to data by German firm Gfk. The company issued the following statement:
"Samsung is India's number 1 smartphone company by a distance. As per GfK, which tracks sales to end consumers, in the last (November) quarter Samsung had a 45 percent value market share and 40 percent volume market share.
Samsung is a full range player and leads the smartphone business across every segment of the India market in 2017. More importantly, Samsung is India's 'Most Trusted' brand. We owe our undisputed leadership to the love and trust of millions of our consumers in India."
Xiaomi, however, isn't impressed, and pointed out the fact that Gfk's data fails to account for online sales. The online segment not only accounts for 33% of sales in the country but is also where the Chinese firm is the market leader.
Regardless of whether Samsung's statements hold merit or are simply representative of the old guard's refusal to stand aside for the upstart new player, what cannot be disputed is Xiaomi's increasing popularity in India, with its strong emphasis on budget devices and online sales yielding impressive gains in the past year alone.