India’s Smartphone Market Is Booming – Especially at the Low End – India Real Time – WSJ

Xiaomi Corp., which announced Monday that its some of its phones are now being assembled at a factory in India, isn’t the only Chinese smartphone maker with its eye on the subcontinent.

With the Chinese economy slowing and demand for smartphones picking up in India, Chinese handset makers including Lenovo Group Ltd.0992.HK +1.70%, Huawei Technologies Co. and Gionee Communication Equipment Co.  are looking to produce and sell more phones in the world’s second-most-populous nation.

But Indian consumers prefer cheaper phones than their Chinese counterparts. Roughly half of smartphones sold in India for the three months ended in June cost less than $100. In China, these low-end smartphones accounted for about 20% of the market over the same period, according to research company International Data Corp. IDC predicts the average selling price of Indian smartphones will fall to $102 in 2018 from $135 in 2014.

The $100 Galaxy J1 and other inexpensive handsets drove sales for Indian smartphone market-leader Samsung Electronics Co.005930.SE 0.00%, helping to increase its share of sales to 23% of the smartphones sold during the quarter ended June 30. In other markets, including China, sales are driven by its flagship Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, which sell for around $600 and $700, respectively, in the U.S.

Smartphone penetration is growing rapidly. While Internet penetration levels in India resemble China’s numbers from six years ago, smartphone penetration is only four years behind, according to a Credit Suisse report. The skyrocketing growth has even caught the attention of Apple Inc.AAPL -5.49%, which recently started offering financing to make its iPhones more accessible to Indians.

That might be bad news for smartphone manufacturers who operate on already razor-thin margins, but it’s potentially good news for Indian consumers and the Indian economy.

It also helps explain why contract manufacturing giant Foxconn says it intends invest billions of dollars setting up factories in India, and why Xiaomi recently announced its first made-in-India smartphone, the $107 Redmi 2 Prime. Changes to tax rules now make it cheaper to manufacture electronics in India. It also shortens the supply chain, meaning phone-makers can get their products to consumers faster and reduce inventory costs.

via India’s Smartphone Market Is Booming – Especially at the Low End – India Real Time – WSJ.

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