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  • Gartner Says Indian Mobile Handset Sales To Reach 138.6 million in 2010

    Published on July 30, 2010

    Mobile device sales in India are forecast to reach 138.6 million in 2010, an increase of 18.5 percent over 2009 sales of 117 million units, according to Gartner, Inc. The mobile handset market is expected to show steady growth through 2014 when end user sales surpass 206 million units.

    The Indian cellular market is very dynamic. New carriers and many new local mobile device manufacturers have entered this already crowded mobile device market. This intense competition has led to very low call rates and low-cost devices from multiple manufacturers in the market. This market was previously dominated by just a few vendors such as Nokia, Motorola, Reliance and Vodafone.

    “Established global device manufacturers are losing ground due to fierce competition from local and Chinese manufacturers in the low-cost segment,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Price remains the main criteria when buying any consumer electronic device in India, including a mobile device. Carrier strategies, lower tariffs and/or third-generation (3G) data plans will continue to shape the mobile device market in India.”

    India, contributing approximately 10 percent of worldwide sales, is an important market for manufacturers with aspirations to grow their global market share. Due to its sheer size and open market (mobile devices being sold independently of cellular connection), it has attracted many global mobile device manufacturers. The market is also supported by many local manufacturers. This has led to more than 50 brands vying for consumer attention in India, besides the many brands in the black markets (selling without invoices).

    “The entry of Indian mobile handset players focusing on low-end, value conscious consumers has intensified competition in the Indian mobile device market. A large volume of mobile device sales in India come from the low-end device segment. The average selling price (ASP) of a mobile device is approximately $52, with 85 percent of devices sold costing below $100,” said Mr. Gupta.

    With the growing influence of local handset players in the low-end segment, the traditionally stronger, big global players have had their positions weakened. At the same time, the midrange to high-end market is getting increasingly competitive too, with a greater focus from global players on the Indian market and the launch of competitively priced midrange and high-end mobile devices.

    The Indian cellular market is highly voice-centric with just 10 percent of carriers’ revenue coming from data services. Within that, 85 percent of revenue comes from Short Message Service, leaving less than 2 percent of overall carriers’ revenue coming from data access on mobile devices. Another fact which separates India, though not the only one, from other markets is that it is a prepaid market, with approximately 95 percent of existing subscribers on prepay schemes, and 98 percent of new subscribers choosing the prepaid option. This all corroborates the fact that the Indian mobile device market is driven by the lowest call rates in the world and dominated by low-cost devices, which account for 80 percent of overall sales in India in 2010.

    Although 3G technology has not been introduced in India yet, 3G device sales are expected to account for 16.7 percent of total sales in 2010, up from 9.2 percent in 2009. By 2014, 3G devices sales are expected to account for 69 percent of total sales. Smartphone sales in India made up 5.2 percent of total device sales in the first quarter of 2010, and Gartner expects this share to increase to 18 percent in 2014.
    “Cellular phone penetration in India stood at 45 percent in 2009, and the market is entering into a second phase of growth, with replacement sales increasing from 45 percent in 2009 to 50 percent of total sales in 2010. Moves to high-speed 3G networks is bringing in more challenges in terms of innovation and keeping up with fast changing consumer demand. Shortening product life cycle times and declining sales of voice-centric devices will bring changes to the market during the next five years,” said Mr. Gupta.