Xiaomi supplants Samsung, takes top spot in India's smartphone market

(Reuters/China Daily)A logo of Xiaomi is seen at Xiaomi's tablet launch event in Beijing, May 15, 2014.

The smartphone landscape in India has seemingly tipped to a different direction.

Xiaomi has taken the top spot in terms of sales in the South Asian country. The Chinese phone manufacturer has beaten perennial leader Samsung according to the latest data from two independent analysis firms, Counterpoint and Canalys.

According to the data from Canalys, Xiaomi edged Samsung in the fourth quarter of 2017, with a slim lead of 27 percent against the 25 percent market share of the latter. As for the numbers from Counterpoint, Xiaomi likewise took the top spot with a 25 percent market share against Samsung's 23 percent. Incidentally, India is the world's second-largest smartphone market, just behind China, a report from TechCrunch noted.

Canalys Research Analyst, Ishan Dutt, said that the persistence of the Chinese phone manufacturer had born fruit. "Its results are commendable, given it entered the market just three years ago. Multiple factors have contributed to Xiaomi's growth, but the key reason for its current success lies in the autonomy that it granted its Indian unit, letting it run the business locally. Localization in channel strategy, marketing and products has been evident in Xiaomi's Indian operations," Dutt explained.

Meanwhile, Counterpoint Associate Director Tarun Pathak said that the competition in India has increased with the entry of other notable brands. "The competitive landscape has changed significantly in the last year, with the rise of brands such as Xiaomi, OPPO, VIVO in the smartphone segment and players such as Reliance Jio, Nokia HMD and iTel in the feature phone segment — all able to disrupt the market with high-quality and attractively-priced offerings," Pathak said.

Pathak noted that in the second half of 2017, Xiaomi, as well as the other players disrupted the market with its "aggressively-priced" portfolio. On top of that, the Chinese tech giant also used an "effective channel expansion strategy" that helped the company surpass the erstwhile Korean leader.

Xiaomi's surge to the top of the Indian market also ended Samsung's six-year reign. With the smartphone landscape going overdrive in India, it will be interesting to see how Samsung attempts to regain the top spot, especially with the impending launch of the Galaxy S9 and S9+.