The rapid upheaval of technology and storming fast internet has led to an enormous growth in the number of smartphone users in India. The unprecedented demand for smartphones in India has made it the second largest smartphone market in the world. The latest forecast by eMarketer, the US-based market research firm, suggests that more than a quarter of India’s population will be using smartphones by the end of this year.
Despite sluggish pace in shipment volume of smartphone units, the smartphone users will continue to rise in India. The number of smartphone users in India is expected to grow by 15.6% to reach 337 million in 2018, according to the report. Surprisingly, it is the highest estimated growth rate posted by any country in the world. The key factors behind this growth are the upsurge in smartphone usage and the demand for more affordable smartphones in urban areas.
Here are main highlights of the report:
- There were 291.6 million smartphone users in India by the end of 2017.
- The number of smartphone users in India is estimated to hit 337 million by the end of 2018.
- The number of smartphone users in India would reach 490.9 million by 2022.
- Between 2017 and 2022, the number of smartphone users in India will grow over 60%
- Despite the growing trend, the smartphone penetration in India will reach only 36.2% by the end of 2022. Therefore, India portrays a big window of opportunity window for all smartphone OEMs at least for the next one decade.
There is a vast opportunity for smartphone makers as 3/4th of 1.3 billion Indian people are yet to feel the smartphone vibe. The competitively priced high-specced devices have lured a lot of Indians to buy their first smartphone. The smartphone penetration in India is bound to increase as it has become one of the most promising markets for the OEMs.
Yet there are some hurdles in India’s path. “India still faces technological challenges that are holding back mass smartphone adoption“, said Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer.
Smartphone Users In India: The Challenges
Around 2/3rd of India’s population still lives in rural areas and a huge majority there uses the feature phone. After the arrival of smartphones, the humble feature phones have become ‘dumb phones’, but these dumb feature phones have shown an upward swing in India. The overall shipment of feature phones in India in 2017 was at 64%, up from 58% in 2016. The feature phone shipments grew by an impressive 55% in Q4 2017, while the overall Indian mobile phone market grew by 37% in the same quarter. Also, in Q1 2018, the Indian feature phone market doubled while the smartphone market remained flat YoY, according to Counterpoint Research.
The slow speed mobile internet is another problem holding the explosive growth in smartphone penetration in India. Although the mobile internet speed has risen tremendously since the advent of 4G LTE, India still stands at 113th position among 126 countries. The mobile broadband download speed in India has clocked 8.99 Mbps as of April 2018.
India’s growing prominence in the smartphone industry has resulted in fierce competition among smartphone companies and OEMs. The success of Chinese makers has been phenomenal in India compared to rest of the APAC countries. The market in the US and Europe has already reached the saturation point which makes emerging nations, especially India, as the ideal market for OEMs for growth and expansion. The Chinese brands account for 57% of the total smartphone market in Q1 2018. While Samsung, Apple and OnePlus continue to dominate in the premium segment.
People in India are steadily catching pace with technology. In Q1 2018, India has become the global leader in app downloads which reflects the fast-increasing use of smartphones and mobile data. Smartphones have become more affordable, and the falling mobile data prices have helped internet to reach a bigger mass of the country’s huge populace. The 4G subscribers in India are expected to rise to 432 million by 2020.