Monday, 10 May 2021 18:53

Chinese smartphone shipments to India set to be hit by COVID-19 surge

Chinese smartphone shipments to India set to be hit by COVID-19 surge Pixabay

A number of Chinese smartphone brands, which dominate the Indian market, may take a sharp hit due to the COVID-19 crisis that has engulfed the world's second largest phone market.

A report in the South China Morning Post said Xiaomi, realme, OPPO and vivo, all of which have been increasing sales in India in recent years, could be the worst affected.

India had to lock down last year and the smartphone market was beginning to show signs of a recovery when the latest surge in coronavirus infections occurred.

In 2020, India experienced a fall of 26% year-on-year during the first six months, before recording a 19% year-on-year increase in the second half of the year.

The first quarter of 2021 saw a rise of 23% year-on-year to reach 38 million units, with the growth attributed to product launches, promotions, financial schemes and pent-up demand from the previous year.

But that has changed since April. The SCMP quoted an IDC analyst, Kiranjeet Kaur, as saying that things had taken an U-turn since the middle of April.

“People are not venturing outside their home unless they absolutely need to,” she said. “[Online retailers] are only providing essentials, and smartphones are not considered an essential.”

The report cited figures from Bloomberg Intelligence as saying that shipments could fall by as much as 25% in the second quarter, which would mean nine million fewer units shipped.

Xiaomi was the top brand in India in 2020, shipping 41 million units, and the COVID-19 crisis could see the company lose 3% of its anticipated quarterly revenue, the Bloomberg figures showed.

There were no figures given for Samsung, the second best performing brand in 2020.

The four Chinese brands have also started making phones in India to serve their growing markets. However, fears of a loss of production due to COVID-19 were played down by Tarun Pathak, the research director of technology analyst firm, Counterpoint Research.

“There might be a temporary cut down in production, but at the same time, these companies are also making sure not to cut down on [their] workforce and may even drive vaccination awareness," he was quoted as saying.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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