India is one untapped, fastest growing mobile phone market. Given that, Reliance Jio Infocomm has also been setting benchmarks in the Indian Telecom Industry and now, an addition of a whopping 8.3 million customers in Q1 of FY 2018, took its market share past 15%. According to the latest report by Counterpoint Research, Jio has taken a big leap of success after being announced as the best-selling feature phone model in Q1 2018. The global feature phone market grew 38% annually in Q1 2018, driven by Reliance Jio Phone shipments which were evidently huge (15%). The report findings also depict the market share of other trailing feature phone brands such as Nokia HMD closely afoot with a 14% market share in Q1 2018, followed by Itel with a 13%, Samsung and Tecno, both with a 6% share. While other brands made up 46% share of the market in the first quarter.
The growth in feature phone category is driven by the increasing popularity of the Reliance Jio Phone in India. Jio Phone has been scaling new heights from the very day of its launch. Apart from rejoicing at the top of Telecom sector, the Mukesh Ambani-led LYF’s Jio Phone became India’s most popular mobile handset brand in Q4 2017, accounting for 27% of the overall shipments, according to market intelligence firm CyberMedia Research (CMR). It has shown a surprising yet first-class growth (more than five-fold), over-powering the domination of smartphones.
Again in Q1 2018, Reliance Jio bags in more than one-third of India’s total feature phone shipment share; which is the highest ever in a single quarter. Surprisingly, the quarterly shipments share of Samsung in feature phone market in India has dropped to 9.8% in Q1 2018, from 25.4% in Q1 2017.
Jio/Lyf works on Linux based OS called KaiOs that seeks to bring about smartphone-like features at an affordable price.
Why Are Feature Phones Still In Hype?
More than 40 million feature phones are being sold every month, worldwide. Interestingly, India and Africa alone are contributing more than 3/4th of the global feature phone industry.
Apart from that, several other factors contribute towards the popularity of the feature phones. Longer battery life and lower cost being the key reasons, tier-II, tier-III and rural area are appealed by the cost-efficient factor of a phone. The preference for a simple, devoid of tech intricacies adds up to the appeal. Priced between INR 1000 to 2000, the basic functionality enabled feature phones are preferred. Again, with the kind of socio-economic spectrum of India, feature phones come with lighter yet robust form-factors which are again, affordable. Not too feature-rich and crammed with applications, these are easier for not-so-tech-savvy people to use. In addition to that, there are no thumbs down to the fact that feature phones offer better battery life at a feasible, low cost.
New Entrant; Yet A Leviathan
The Jio Phone stirred up the industry with its zero cost smart feature phone. With effective, the basic functionality of a smartphone that enables 4G connectivity, web browsing and more, it’s exclusive tariff plans were noticeably cheaper and hence, attention-grabbing.
Reportedly, the newcomer Jio continued its steady climb in terms of customer market share, that started from 11.72% in September 2017, to 13.71% in December 2017 and now, the evident market share of 15%, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).
Standing testimony to the global upward swing of feature phones, Reliance Jio Phones extensive portfolio of capturing the Global Feature Phone Shipments is A-okay and underlines the key attributes of 4G feature phones. However, with the new tidings of introducing more 4G feature phone, like Nokia HMD launching a 4G version of its 3310 model and the newly launched 8810 models, this 2.4-inch 4G-enabled device may have to summon up contests to maintain its position.
Analysts believe that, although demand for the smartphone may gather momentum in the upcoming months, feature phones will continue to play a major part in the market, ringing louder and are certainly, here to stay.