Cell/ Mobile phones: India

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Cell phones: India

Contents

App(lication)s

App usage by Indians: 2016,17

Ranjani Ayyar, Indians spend 2.5 hrs|day on apps , May 13, 2017: The Times of India

Indians spent 2.5 hours a day on apps in the first three months of 2017, higher than the 2 hours they spent during the same period in 2016. India also ranked ahead of the US, UK, Germany and France where users spent 1.5 -2 hours per day on apps.

Areport by data analytics company App Annie reveals that time spent in apps globally increased to nearly one trillion hours in 2016 with an average usage of 9 apps per day . Brazil, China and India led with over 10 apps used every day . During the first three months of 2017, the average Indian smartphone user had almost 80 apps in stalled on hisher phone and used over 40 apps in a month.

“Consumers have spoken. By and large, they prefer to manage their lives through apps. For many industries, apps are increasingly becoming a must-have,“ the report said.

An interesting observation is that over 80% of time spent in apps was spent outside of the top app. “While this represents a considerable amount of user time, it is far less than some might as sume. There is plenty of user time to go around that is not dominated by major apps such as FB, WhatsApp,“ the report said. 2016 saw the advent of chatbots with players in several sectors including education, fin tech, insurance and health dabbling with bots. While industry insiders touted bots to be the next stage of transformation, it is yet to gain traction in India.“They are still limited to niche use in urban India and are still meant only for the tech savvy consumer conversant in English,“ said Anand Rajkumar, head of marketing, Hasura, a startup that offers an app development platform.

“On the other hand, apps are becoming more mainstream. As telecom and 4G penetration increases, and smartphones become cheaper, a new section of the population is getting connected to the internet. And as several essential functions such as operating a bank account (or even paytm) are much better done through an app, their introduction to the internet necessarily involve apps,“ he said. Experts say apps will continue to grab the larger share of user's time while bots will be useful only for specific processes.

2017: App usage by Indians

Shalina Pillai, India widens lead in app downloads, October 28, 2017: The Times of India



Most of the growth in global mobile app downloads in the third quarter of 2017 was accounted for by India, says app analytics firm App Annie. The report did not disclose India-specific figures, but it said that the country surpassed the rest of the markets in absolute download growth by a wide margin.The number of downloads in India in Q3 (July-September) was twice as high as that in Q3 2016, the report said.

Download numbers have risen sharply since the launch of Reliance Jio in September last year, which brought down mobile internet access costs dramatically . Global mobile app downloads -in Apple Store and Google Play Store -grew 8% to 26 billion in Q3, compared to a year ago. Google Play Store alone accounted for 18 billion downloads. These numbers include only new downloads and does not count reinstalls and app updates.

India became the largest app downloader from Google Play Store in full-year 2016, accounting for over 6 billion downloads, or more than 10% of the total downloads.

The US was No. 2 at just about 6 billion. India was No. 3 in 2015, but the Jio phenomenon pushed it to the top the following year.

Currently , Brazil is the No.2 downloader from Google Play Store, and the US is No. 3.

“Continuing a long-standing trend, download growth on Google Play was fuelled by emerging markets. The ongoing influx of first-time smartphone owners in these countries has been a significant driver of this growth.Given that these markets still have a relatively low level of smartphone penetration, we expect these trends to continue for the foreseeable future,“ the App Annie report further said.

Video streaming apps drove growth in both stores. Hotstar is one of the top video streaming apps for India. The other top apps in the Google Play Store currently are WhatsApp, FB Messenger, ShareIt, and Truecaller.

The total time spent in apps worldwide among Android phone users grew 40% year-over-year, coming close to 325 billion hours in Q3 2017.According to an earlier report, the most active users in India spent over 4 hours per day on mobile apps.

Most Indian apps fail on privacy

Digbijay Mishra, Most desi apps fail on privacy front, December 21, 2017: The Times of India


As more smartphone users install apps, privacy concerns are rising around the data being shared while installing these applications. Almost 70% of Indian apps do not take explicit user consent during installation and ask for 3.5 times more permissions than their US counterparts. This was revealed by a study of 100 Indian apps by Arrka Consulting — a data advisory and consulting firm — shared with TOI.

These 100 apps had over 1 million downloads and were spread across various sectors for fair representation — communication, e-wallets, shopping, education, jobs, dating, travel, finance, game, and food & drinks, among others.

Mobile apps often ask for access to your phone camera, microphone, location and call log, among other such things, the study pointed out. In fact, 77% of apps were non-committal when asked what happens to a user’s personal data once the apps are deleted. As many as 68% of Indian apps do not let users have a choice to opt out from giving personal information. Essentially what this means is that, after allowing certain sensitive permissions if a user wants to go back and block them, these applications won’t allow for it.

For instance, the study said one of the popular weather apps, AccuWeather, was sending location data without users’ go ahead. To be sure, there are standard permissions needed by apps before they run on your mobile phones, which are like setting up time zones. But the sensitive ones are like access to the camera (through which the app can create photos and videos), access to microphone, read external & internal storage, SMS and location.

According to the study, this lets apps build a profile of users and can track them. Such apps usually share the data with third-party advertisers and analytics providers. Here, too, Indian apps have a higher percentage of instances of sharing data with thirdparty outlets compared to the US. Almost 94% of such Indian apps share the user data with at least one of the third party outlets.

“There are two sides to the whole issue. First being collection of data and then storage of it. Legislation has to be brought in and then it will create awareness among every stakeholder. The companies need to realise they have to give the choice to the user, and then a user can say whether he/she is willing to share very sensitive data. Bringing legislation can be a good start to address these concerns,” said Arrka Consulting CEO Shivangi Nadkarni.

On an average, Indian apps take about almost eight such sensitive permissions before they run on the phone.

2017: India ranks 2nd in app downloads

Digbijay Mishra, India ranks 2nd in app downloads, January 19, 2018: The Times of India

Consumer spending on waching movies, dating online, India, China, Brazil and the USA- 2015-17
From: Digbijay Mishra, India ranks 2nd in app downloads, January 19, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

Consumer spending on waching movies, dating online, India, China, Brazil and the USA- 2015-17


India has clocked the second-largest number of mobile app downloads, overtaking the US and trailing only China, according to a report from App Annie — a third-party agency which collates data on apps.

This data is inclusive of Apple’s iOS Store, Google Play and third-party Android stores. App usage grew rapidly in India, driven by the introduction of subsidised, unlimited 4G access by Reliance Jio in September 2016, the report noted. India saw a growth of about 215% while US saw a degrowth of 5% during 2017.

India, which is seen as an emerging market in the app economy, came on top of the list for highest monthly average number of apps used and installed. On an average, Indians use more than 40 apps in a month, while having a total base of close to 80 apps. On this parameter, China and Brazil are behind India.

Incidentally, the report threw light on consumer spending behaviour of Indians with regards to mobile apps. Despite the popular perception that Indians shy away from paying for in-app purchases, dating app Tinder and over-the-top (OTT) entertainment platform Netflix topped the chart as far as spends on apps go.

Chinese video app Bigo Live and Google Drive are the other top apps where Indians have spent significantly in 2017, the data in the report pointed out. Star Indiaowned Hotstar is another OTT player in the top 10 apps here with high consumer spends. The report did not specify the amount consumers spent on these apps throughout last year.

The data indicates an interesting trend where Indians are starting to pay for various apps. The more mature a market is, the higher chances of monetisation, the report added. For example, China is much ahead of India in terms of monetisation like the US, the UK and Japan, among others.

Tinder, which launched in 2012, started its India office — the first outside the US — in 2016. In India, with the rise of smartphone usage and cheaper data, multiple startups have ventured into online dating. Some of the other prominent names in this space include TrulyMadly, Floh and Woo. Netflix competes with the likes of Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video. Gaming, which sees a higher number of paying users traditionally than other segments, saw Teen Patti emerging as the top gaming app in India in terms of consumer spending.

2018: India overtakes USA, ranks no.1

In Jan-Feb 2018, India overtook the US as the country with the highest number of paid or promoted app(lication) downloads
From: April 8, 2018: The Times of India

See graphic:

In Jan-Feb 2018, India overtook the US as the country with the highest number of paid or promoted app(lication) downloads

Cell phone gaming

The Times of India

Cell phone gaming, estimated: 2013 and projected: 2014-2018

Apr 24 2015

Narayanan Krishnaswami

A new generation of entrepreneurs who have grown up playing Super Mario Brothers and God of War are making the most of low-entry barriers to create startups focusing on mobile games. They are making a mark in the international market even as they cater to India's growing smartphone user base

Last week, Udupi-based Robosoft raised Rs 74 crore from Ascent Capital and Kalaari. Part aof that money will be invested in develop ing new games, as well as acceler ating the growth of Star Chef, the flagship title of Robosoft subsidiary and mobile game-maker 99games. Star Chef is a restaurant-themed building game. Released in August last year for the iOS, the game has seen more than 1.2 million downloads, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 across more than 35,000 reviews, says Anila Andrade, a producer at 99games.“Nearly 4.5% of our users are paying users -with one user having spent as much as $4,800 so far,“ she says.

“Monetization rates in the mobile gaming industry average 1-2 %,“ says Amit Khanduja, EVP of Reliance Gaming. In that context, Andrade's pride is justified. But low monetization levels are not deterring entrepreneurs, or investments in mobile gaming. Earlier this year, Moonfrog Labs raised $15 million as Series A funding from Tiger Global and Sequoia Capital. Before that, Sequoia had invested in Delhi-based Octro. Both Moonfrog and Octro make mobile versions of Teen Patti, our own variant of poker. And just over a year ago, GSN Games, the US social casino games maker, bought Bengaluru-based Bash Gaming for around $165 million.

NEW GAMES, NEW FACES

The new generation of India's entrepreneurs are people who grew up playing games -whether it was on old Nintendo Game and Watch devices, mobile-sized devices with controls on either side, with titles like Octopus and Parachute, or on later consoles like the PlayStation. For them, games are a labour of love, and they have the confidence of youth. It's not surprising that the mobile game development industry is taking off in India, in a way that PC game development or console game development never did. The entry barriers are much lower, for one. The Unity 5 game engine, one of the most popular development platforms for games, is available for free.

The game makers include the usual suspects, engineering students with a desire to do their own thing, but there are others as well. Raoul Nanavathi is a 27-year-old graduate of economics and political science who runs Mumbai-based BYOF Studios. He worked for WOI, a company that specialized in making in-flight games for airline companies, before striking out on his own. BYOF's Discover-O, a deceptively simple game that involves colour matching, made it to the top five games of Pocket Gamer Connects, the mobile games conference held in Bengaluru last week.

Nalin Savara is a garrulous 30-something whose conversation swings easily from Jung and Freud to the use of stereotypes in story telling. Savara quit his job at Escosoft, started a gaming company called Darksun Tech, and is now working on BlokStok, a fighting game where recognizably Indian characters battle it out in front of recognizably Indian backgrounds.

Himanshu Manwani quit his job and moved in with his parents in Bhopal. The 25-year-old wanted to make a game that would recapture the experience of playing Super Mario Brothers or Super Meat Boy. Manwani built Super Nano Jumpers solo. Design, art, coding, testing -the works. It was a difficult time for Manwani. Despite his parents' support, there were always people who felt that he should be working, and not pursuing a fool's dream. All that changed last week, when Super Nano Jumpers won the first prize -Rs 10 lakh -at the Big Indie Pitch, the culmination of Reliance Gaming's Game Hacks held around the country over the course of last year. Now, Manwani has used his prize money to get himself an iPhone and will be hiring people to help him with his next project.

Mobile gaming is a cut-throat business. Games make up 21.45% of 1.4 million plus apps on Apple Store, by far the largest chunk. The next highest category , business apps, make up just 10%. And a good mobile game has to hold the downloader's interest if it is to survive. You could call it the “seven second churn“. If the game doesn't hook the user in its first seven seconds, it's unlikely that it will be a success.And if the interval between the first and second time the user plays a mobile game is greater than seven days, that user is probably lost.“There are three simple things about making a great mobile game,“ says Manish Agarwal, CEO of Reliance Gaming. “The game should be easy to pick up -the gameplay must be easily mastered. It should give the impression of being easy . It should not be easy. Simple rules, but very difficult to implement“.

“What Indian developers lack is confidence,“ says Chris James, MD of Steel Media, the organization that runs PocketGamer, the influential mobile app site. “That's probably because they lack history (in making games)“. But that doesn't mean that the games are bad, though.James says that the quality of mobile games he'd seen made by Indian gamemakers is “very high, as high as (those) made in London or elsewhere“. The Guardian newspaper's games editor, Keith Stuart, who was in Bengaluru for Pocket Gamer Connects, said his preconceptions about Indian mobile game developers were “not so much challenged as kicked in the face“.

BIGGER THAN E-COMMERCE

Nitish Mittersain is CEO of Mumbai-based Nazara Technologies, one of India's oldest gaming companies. They've been around since 2000, but he believes the next few years are going to be crucial. “The number of smartphone users in India is going to go up from 130 million to anywhere between 300 million and 500 million. The market for mobile gaming will take off in India over the next three to five years,“ he says. “As games get better, we will see more and more Indians willing to spend money on things like in-game purchases“. Nazara is also partnering with small companies, co-developing games with them. “We see a lot of young people developing games, we can provide money and mentorship and help them reach a larger market,“ he says. That's a tack that Reliance is taking as well. “We will co-develop games with promising developers, those with good ideas and the passion that's needed to deliver a great game,“ says Reliance's Agarwal. “Remember Flipkart a few years ago? This is going to be bigger than e-commerce“.

Smart-/ cell- phones: production in India

Ringing Bells

The Times of India, Feb 19 2016

Pankul Sharma

Until Ringing Bells, Goel had small grocery shop

The whole country is today talking about Ringing Bells, Mohit Goel's Rs 251 smart phone His father Rajesh Goel, though, sitting in his smalgrocery shop that proclaims its name to be `Ram ji' on a grey board doesn't know what the fuss is all about. He says he always knew his son would do some thing big. Even in Garhipukhta asmall town in Shamli district o Uttar Pradesh, not many knew about the Goels or their shop. It's a different story today. They are suddenly all that everyone here is discussing. Goel Sr, who is now also one o the directors of the company the directors of the company said, “ After completing his schooling, Mohit went to Noida and competed his graduation from Amity University . The last time that he was home to meet us he had expressed his desire to open a company and I loaned him some money to start what he wanted to. Then he started a mo bile phone company and told us about his venture. Little did we know what it meant then. It's re ally big, is it? We also attended the event where Freedom 251mo bile was launched in New Delhi.“

Mohit, who is the managing director of Ringing Bells, has lived with his father at Garhipuk hta most of his life, often helping around in the grocery shop. On Thursday , Ringing Bells launched Freedom 251, the mobile phone, in a glitzy event in New Delhi that was attended by several dignitaries, including senior BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi.A few residents from Shamli were also invited to the launch.

After completing his schooling from Saint RC Convent School, Mohit earned his engineering degree from Amity University. He recently married Dhaarna, a Noida resident, who is now CEO of Ringing Bells.

6 lakh hits per second lead to co's website crash

This surely is a dampener after the excitement created around the Rs 251smartphone, unveiled by a Noida-based company -Ringing Bells. The company's website ­ only way to book the phone ­ could not f take orders on Thursday. According to those who logged on to the , website, bookings could not be made, even though some had logged in very early in the day. Earlier, Ringing Bells had said that people can make a booking for the phone from its website from 6 am onwards. However, the company ­ in a written message on the website ­ said that an overwhelming response to the offer had over-loaded the servers that , now needed to be upgraded. “... we are very grateful for your enormous response and your kind patronage and would submit that as of now we (have) received approximately six lakh hits per second. As a result of your kind overwhelming response, servers are over loaded. We humbly submit that we are therefore taking a pause and upgrading the service and will revert within or before 24 hours,“ the company said.

NOIDA is the hub: 2016

Pankaj Doval, Aug 26 2016, The Times of India


If you unclip the back of your new Samsung smartphone, or one from a homegrown brand like Karbonn, Lava or Intex, you might find a `Made in India' sticker there. And chances are that the device has been assembled in the Noida-Greater Noida region at Delhi's doorstep. Ever since the Centre introduced a 10.5% duty differential between imported devices and those made locally in last year's Budget, the region has become India's biggest smartphone hub, with a capacity to make more than 140 million devices per annum -40% more than a year's demand.

Not that Qualcomm and MediaTek are stamping out processors here -all the critical components still come from China and Taiwan -but it is a significant start for the industry . Sources said the local industry does about 5-8% of value addition at present, and this can be scaled up to around 35% within five years.

The flurry of investments to the region was perhaps prompted by the presence of Korean giants Samsung and LG. Samsung, which started local manufacturing a decade ago and reportedly has the highest installed capacity of 40 million devices per annum -the company did not confirm it -seeded a significant number of smartphone com ponent suppliers in the area.The company produces mobile phones from completelyknocked-down (CKD) kits.

“All our mobile phones, from feature phones to the Galaxy S7 that we sell in India, are manufactured at our Noida factory , and we will continue to explore future investment opportunities,“ a spokesperson for Samsung said.

Now Indian brands like Lava, Intex and Karbonn, besides Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron, have also set up shop. In partnership with home-grown telecom retailer and manufacturer Optiemus, Wistron makes phones for LG, China's OnePlus and Oppo, and Taiwan's HTC. Another Chinese vendor, Water World Technology , has partnered local company UTL Group, which is one of the backers of Karbonn Mobiles. Each factory creates 3,000-4,000 direct jobs, employing mostly high-school or ITI graduates.

Proximity to Delhi, where most home-grown phone brands are headquartered, has certainly helped the region bloom despite UP's iffy image as a business destination. “The promoters wanted operations in a region that remains within their reach and under their control,“ said Narendra Bansal, chairman of Intex Technologies, a major Indian phone brand.

“Noida's proximity to the capital, its growing infrastructure, and development as a large residential hub close to the capital's business districts also helped,“ the Samsung spokesperson said.

Intex, which has three factories in Noida with an annual installed capacity of 30 million phones (feature and smart), is now setting up a 20-acre base at Kasna in Greater Noida for a larger integrated facility that will also house key suppliers. “There are huge advantages here in terms of the cost and availability of labour. The power supply is largely uninterrupted and the productivity levels are even better than China's in many cases,“ said Sunil Vachani of Dixon Technologies whose company makes Karbonn and Panasonic devices in a joint venture. But is it easy to do business in UP? “The benefits may be less than in states like Andhra Pradesh, which offer incentives. However, operating in the south is difficult for a north-Indian brand. Moreover, the UP administration is supportive,“ Vachani added.

Lava managing director Hari Om Rai said availability of land in the Noida-Greater Noida industrial area has also been an important enabler. “There may be a few instances of difficulty in getting approvals, but the broader policies are clear,“ said Rai whose company has an annual installed capacity of nearly 36 million devices. “We have not faced interventions by the government.“

Now, even Chinese vendors and suppliers are gravitating to the region, drawn by its large production capacities. The manufacturing processes are still low-end, with a lot of assembly done manually , but efforts to increase local engagement and add sophisticated processes, such as the assembly of printed circuit boards (PCB), are on.

Analysts said PCB assembly will enhance the quality of local manufacturing. Also, there are efforts to develop R&D and design capabilities within the country , instead of relying on partners in China and Taiwan. “It will take at least 5-7 years to develop a high valueadd manufacturing set-up here,“ said Pardeep Jain, MD of Karbonn Mobiles.

IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said more initiatives are planned to boost the manufacturing of electronics.“Electronics manufacturing is a focus of the government as part of the `Make in India' initiative. The current investments have resulted in as many as 40,000 direct jobs and over 1.2 lakh indirect employment. We estimate that mobile phone production will reach a level of around 500 million devices by 2019­20.“

For now, uncertainty over the fate of the 10.5% duty differential in a GST regime is worrying investors, even though they have welcomed the simpler tax structure a GST will bring. “It will be near-suicidal to make fresh investments until GST is described,“ Jain said. “We do not want to gamble in such an uncertain scenario,“ Vachani added.

Minister Prasad said concerns around GST would be addressed.“Please remember, GST is for India.Surely , in the whole fiscal architecture we will ensure that Indian manufacturing interests are saved.“

Asked if the duty differential between local manufacturing and imports will be maintained, he said, “Obviously , why not... the interest of India's manufacturers will be kept in mind.“

2016-17/ production worth more than 1 lakh crore

Pankaj Doval, India-made phones hit Rs 1L cr in FY17, Feb 11 2017: The Times of India


Mobile phones worth nearly Rs 1 lakh crore are expected to be produced locally by the end of this financial year (2016-17), more than five times compared to two years back, as companies churn out around 200 million devices in one of the world's fastest-growing market.

The growth in output is a heartening development for the government, which has been pushing manufacture of electronics in the country , led by a lower duty regime for devices produced in-house.

“India will be producing mobile phones worth Rs 97,000 crore this fiscal, a quantum jump when compared to the Rs 18,900 crore achieved in 2014 15,“ IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told TOI here.

Prasad said that nearly 40 new factories have come up in the country during this period, and these have been joi ned by nearly three-dozen top ancillary makers. “If you look at the output, India is expected to locally-produce nearly 200 million devices this fiscal against 60 million units two years back.“

Local production enjoys around 12% incentive compared to imported products, and this has been a major incentive for companies to look inwards. A large number of companies have started manufacturingsourcing locally over the past two years and these include some of the top Chinese names such as Huawei, LenovoMotorola, Xiaomi and Gionee. Homegrown brands such as Intex, Lava, Karbonn and Micromax have also been boosting local output.

July-September 2017, production of mobile phones

Pankaj Doval, Xiaomi is 2nd biggest mobile co in India, November 15, 2017: The Times of India

Pips Lenovo-Motorola, Just Behind Samsung

Chinese phone major Xiaomi grew strongly in the third quarter (July-September) of 2017 and emerged as the second-biggest smartphone company in India, a shade lower than Samsung that still managed a slender edge. Xiaomi toppled Lenovo-Motorola, which has dropped to third position.

Micromax, which was in third position in July-September 2016, has slipped out of top five positions.

According to numbers released by IDC, Samsung’s sales in July-September 2017 stood at 91.8 lakh units against 91.7 lakh units sold by Xiaomi in the same period. The companies had a market share of 23.5% each. Lenovo-Motorola sold 35.1lakh units and had a market share of 9%.

Cumulatively, 39 million smartphones were sold in the period, showing a year-on-year growth of 21%, which was led by robust demand ahead of the festive period (Navratra and Diwali) and high-decibel offers by online players.

“E-tailers’ several rounds of online festival sales in August and September led to robust growth in the smartphone category. Thirteen million smartphones were billed to etailers with 35% annual growth and 73% growth from the previous quarter,” IDC said. The top five brands, which also included Vivo and Oppo of China, accounted for 72% share of the smartphone market compared to nearly 50% a year ago.

Pre-festive offers and discounts thrown in by the online sellers gave a big push to demand. “E-tailers have popularised many trends in the smartphone market, like making devices more affordable through easy financing options, attractive exchange offers,” said Jaipal Singh, senior analyst at IDC India.

Xiaomi was one of the strongest gainers with around threefold rise in numbers. “There was strong traction for products and we have been boosting capacity and retail presence to build further momentum,” Manu Jain, MD of Xiaomi’s local operations, said.

2018, Jan- April: 10 smartphone companies quit

Gulveen Aulakh, April 30, 2018: The Times of India

Smartphone players, entry and exit- 2015-April 18;
Entrance by category, country-wise- 2015-17
From: Gulveen Aulakh, April 30, 2018: The Times of India

The shakeout in India’s smartphone market mirroring the telecom industry saw number of new entrants nearly halved between 2015 and 2017 while exits grew six-fold as the capital intensive business weeded out weak players unable to sustain and expand as competition capped prices.

The top five smartphone brands — Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Huawei — currently control over 72% of the market against 63% in 2015, albeit with a different brand combination. The top 15 have cornered over 90%, of the market according to Counterpoint Research and experts believe exits and consolidation will gather pace this year. Singapore-based research firm Canalys data showed that the top five — Xiaomi, Samsung, Oppo, Vivo and Lenovo — had about 77% of the smartphone market in the March quarter and Micromax, Intex and Lava, the three Indian players in the list in 2015, fell off. “The fast changing dynamics and fierce competition in the India smartphone market will lead towards consolidation in the market,” said Shobhit Shrivastava, research analyst at Hong Kong based Counterpoint Research.

Counterpoint sees some five new entrants in 2018 versus 10 exits. Analysts say roughly 15 of the total 50-60 have the required strength or a niche strategy to stay for the long run. Some of the notable players not in the top five include Apple, Motorola/Lenovo, Nokia, OnePlus, and Lyf besides local players such as Micromax and Lava. At its peak in 2014-15, the mobile phone market had over 300 smartphone players.

“Smaller players are struggling to set up local level manufacturing, especially after the 10% duty on printed circuit board (PCB) assembly, since they don't have enough volumes to justify large investments. Due to competition, they cannot raise prices,” said Jaipal Singh, senior market analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC) India.

In 2015, of the 15 new players, nine Chinese and five Indian entered the smartphone growing at more than 20% every year and only one player exited. By 2016 when the market growth slowed to just 5%, 13 new players entered, five each of Indian and Chinese origin, and an equal number exited, Counterpoint data show. In 2017, when the market growth rebounded to about 14%, 13 players exited and only nine new players moved in, five of them Chinese.

The handset market reflect the telecom sector in India where the entry of disruptor Reliance Jio forced rampant tariff cuts and sparked the need for top dollar investments, triggering rapid consolidation that left only three main operators from 10-12 a couple of years back. Over 60% of the subscriber share and 70% of the revenue share was with the three top players – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea — even before the cull and the latter two merged.

On the smartphone front, disruptor and new No. 1Xiaomi and long-time leader and now No. 2 Samsung together cornered 58% of the market in the January-March quarter. “This is happening for the first time in a single quarter… could accelerate exits and possibly consolidation,” said Counterpoint research analyst Anshika Jain.

Sector watchers don’t expect the dominant players to loosen their grip on market share anytime soon as competition in the sub- Rs 10,000 segment – where most new players come in – has become tougher with the presence of Xiaomi. Besides, new players have to spend more on marketing, sales and distribution where margins have been slashed, commissions cut and shop floor employees eased out across brands.

“The sales channels have changed, there isn’t anyone now who can spend like Oppo and Vivo did, going into the deepest pockets and giving shopkeepers rentals to put up their glow signs. Now, even Oppo and Vivo have curtailed spends,” IDC’s Singh cautioned.

Smart-phone usage in India

2013, 2016: feature- and smart- phones sold

You can pre-book Jio Phones from Aug 24|Jul 22 2017: The Times of India (Delhi)

Number and value of feature- and smart- phones sold in 2013 and 2016.
From The Times of India
iPhone sale in India, 2009-15; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, April 27, 2016
Retail market share by volume of smartphone brands priced between Rs.6,00- 15,000, in 2014 and Feb. 2016; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, April 14, 2016

2015-16: India is world’s no2 market

Sales of Mobile telephones/ cellular telephones in India, 2004-14 Source: The Times of India
The countries with the world’s highest number of smartphone connections, 2015-16

Pankaj Doval, India pips US in smartphone connections, Oct 27 2016 : The Times of India


Becomes No. 2 After China

India has become the second-biggest market globally in terms of smartphone connections, overtaking the US and trailing only China. More and more Indians are logging on the internet using their mobiles, aided by availability of low-priced smartphones -a significant number of them assembled locally and sold for as low as Rs 3,000 -and rapid expansion of 3G and 4G networks.

According to figures provided by global telecom body GSMA, smartphone connections in India at the end of the first half of this year (ending June 2016) stood at 275 million, higher than 259 million connections in the US. China, however, leads by a huge margin with overall smartphone connections at 910 million.

Alasdair Grant, the head of Asia for GSMA, told TOI that the growth in smartphone connections will continue to remain strong in coming years as 3G and 4G networks spread rapidly across the country .The growth will be fuelled further with the entry of new operators such as Reliance Jio.

Grant added that 4G connection base is forecast to grow from 3 million at the end of 2015 to 280 million by 2020. “Mobile broadband (3G and 4G) will account for nearly 50% of total connections in India by then.“

GSMA said mobile operators are investing heavily to improve network coverage, and this should see 3G being available to 90% of the population by 2020, while 4G to 70%, the latter registering a 14-fold increase from now.

Most of the mobile manufacturers have also read the trend as the majority of new device launches by them are only 3G and 4G compatible as 2G devices -which are mainly feature phones -are being discontinued. Total mobile users in India (some may carry multiple SIM cards) stood at 616 million at the end of June, GSMA said. “ Almost half of the country's population now subscribes to a mobile service, indicating the significant growth potential in the coming years, particularly from the rural and under-penetrated segments.“

In its `India Mobile Economy' report, GSMA estimates that 330 million new mobile users will be added by 2020. This would push up the mobile phone penetration base across the population to 68% against 47% at the end of 2015.

2015-2016: Smartphones market share

M.G.Arun Share “India Today” 20/6/2016

Top brands share , India Today , June 20,2016

2016, a slide in sale

The Times of India, Jan 16, 2017

Minutes of usage per month, city-wise, 2016; The Times of India, Jan 16, 2017

Pankaj Doval, Dragon edges out Indian smartphone cos from top 5, Jan 25 2017, The Times of India


It has been a rapid slide for Indian smartphone manufacturers as Chinese companies strengthen their grip on buyers. Led by Micromax, homegrown brands have taken a beating as Chinese phone makers such as Vivo and Lenovo strengthen their hold, driven by new devices and aggressive marketing strategies.

None of the Indian brands figure in the top-five smartphone ranking released for Q4 of 2016, a far cry from the Q1 where three brands in top five were Indian, according to Counterpoint. The pressure from the Chinese brands is so intense that even Samsung, which still leads the market, has seen its share down at 24% in Q4 of 2016 against 29% in first quarter.

While Chinese brands have been investing aggressively over the last few years, their large-scale acceptance among buyers surprises many . The general perception was Chinese brands were poor in quality and lacked bandwidth to service their phones. But this has be en changing as Chienese companies make inroads into offline retail stores, while becoming highly-visible via heavy investments in big-ticket sporting and entertainment events.

Vivo came up strongly to finish the fourth quarter with a share of 10%, second behind Samsung. It was followed by Xi aomi, Lenovo and Oppo. “Indian companies are not refreshing product line-up. Their access to new technologies and components is limited,“ said Tarun Pathak, the telecom sector analyst at Counterpoint.

“Chinese companies are winning offline retailers by giving them better margins.“

2016, 2017

Apple sets new sales record in India, says Cook, May 3, 2018: The Times of India

Top smartphone brands by market share in 2017 and 2016
From: Apple sets new sales record in India, says Cook, May 3, 2018: The Times of India

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that in India, the company set a new first-half record (the company’s fiscal year begins in October). “We continue to put great energy there...our objective over time is to go in there with all of our different initiatives from retail and everything else,” he said in a post-earnings call.

Cook did not provide any India specific numbers. He, however, noted that India is the third-largest smartphone market in the world and said there are huge opportunities there for Apple. “...we have extremely low share in that market overall. And so we're putting a lot of energy there and working with the carriers in that market, and they're investing enormously on the LTE (high-speed wireless) networks. And the infrastructure has come quite a ways since we began to put a lot of energy in there because of their leadership and so forth,” he said.

Shobhit Srivastava, research analyst in Counterpoint Research, which estimates mobile phone shipments, told TOI that India continues to be a challenging but high growth market for Apple. “The increasing installed base of iPhones is a good sign, given the strong stickiness and aspiration value of the brand. It will likely drive upgrades for the brand in future,” he said.

Marketshare 2017

Marketshare of cell- mobilephones in India, 2017 - I
From: May 15, 2018: The Times of India
Marketshare of cell- mobilephones in India, 2017- II
From: May 15, 2018: The Times of India

See graphics:

Marketshare of cell- mobilephones in India, 2017- I

Marketshare of cell- mobilephones in India, 2017- II

Smartphone market; 4G handsets

Xiaomi tops smartphone market, Jio leads 4G handset segment in India: IDC, May 14, 2018: The Times of India


While the smartphone market in India saw a healthy shipment of 30 million units in the first quarter of 2018, Xiaomi maintained its lead with 30.3 per cent market share, with Samsung at second place with 25.1 per cent share, the International Data Corporation (IDC) said.

The 4G feature phone market continued to grow at more than 50 per cent quarter-on-quarter, driven primarily by Reliance JioPhone which led the market with 38.4 per cent share.

The operator disrupted the market by introducing aggressively priced data plans at Rs 49 in the initial weeks of the quarter, acting as catalyst for growth.

According to the IDC's "Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker", the India smartphone market maintained a healthy year on year (yoy) growth of 11 per cent. However, the market remained almost flat compared to the previous fourth quarter of 2017.

Xiaomi increased its share of total online shipments from 32 per cent a year ago to 53 per cent in Q1.

"Xiaomi is in a unique position with a diversified channel approach and strong demand in each of the channels. Huawei's Honor 9 Lite also made into the top 5 online models in its debut quarter 2018Q1," said Jaipal Singh, Senior Market Analyst, IDC India.

Xiaomi maintained its lead in the market for second quarter in a row with further expansion in the offline channel and popularity of its models such as Redmi 5A and Redmi Note 5.

Commenting on local manufacturing of smartphones, Upasana Joshi, Senior Market Analyst, IDC India, said: "The recent import duty hike on PCBs, camera modules and connectors by the Indian government, definitely puts cost pressure on the smartphone companies, till such time that they set up lines for CKD (Complete Knock Down) type of manufacturing to reduce this impact."

"This will increase the challenges for smaller companies even more," she added. Samsung remained at the second spot with flat annual growth in Q1.

"Samsung's two-pronged approach with the focus on low-to-mid range J series and the latest flagships Galaxy S9 series along with Galaxy S8 series and Note 8 in the premium segment drove shipments for the vendor," said the IDC.

OPPO climbed to third spot from fifth in the last quarter. Vivo slipped to fourth position as its shipments declined by 29.4 per cent year-over-year in Q1. However, the brand grew by 2.1 per cent as compared to the previous quarter. The Y series of Vivo continued to generate close to 70 per cent demand.

China-based Transsion Group made its debut in the top 5 with more than threefold annual growth in shipments in Q1. The China-based group has four brands under its umbrella - itel, Tecno, Infinix and Spice.

"The government push for high-end electronics local manufacturing and accompanying duty hike puts most of the mobile phone vendors under further margin pressure. However, a vendor looking to establish itself for long term will have to show commitment by setting up the SMT units here," Singh added.

SIM cards

SC: Link SIMs to users' Aadhaar IDs

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Link SIMs to users' Aadhaar IDs: Court, Feb 7, 2017: The Times of India


The Supreme Court directed the Union government on Monday to register identity details of all 105 crore mobile phone users by linking their SIM cards to their Aadhaar number. While giving this direction to the Centre, a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice N V Ramana commended advocate Ashok Dhamija for filing the PIL on behalf of NGO `Lokniti Foundation' seeking 100% verification of cell phone subscribers with regard to their identity and address by linking their phone numbers to their Aadhaar cards.

Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi said the Union government was agreeable to the idea. “But the task is gigantic as more than 90% of the 105 crore subscribers are using prepaid SIM cards. These SIM cards get recharged at roadside kiosks, making it difficult to register them,“ he added.

The bench said, “The gov ernment has to devise a method. The person who comes for recharge of the phone should be given a form to give his details including Aadhaar number. He should submit the filled form the next time he goes for recharge. You can give him more time. May be three or four recharges before he furnishes the details. But make it mandatory that he must furnish details or else there would be no recharge of prepaid SIMs.“

The AG said, “Taking coercive measures immediately could be difficult. After demonetisation,cell phones are used for several activities. How long it would take to register each and every cell phone user is difficult to estimate.“ The bench would have none of it and told the AG that the government may take one year to complete the task but it has to do it.When the AG said the government would put in place an effective mechanism to register details of all subscribers, the bench disposed of the petition saying it would be done not later than one year.

Storage size

2017: increases to 28 GB, but still below world average

Sujit John, Photos, videos push up mobile memory size, December 18, 2017: The Times of India

Average storage space in cell-mobile phones, Jan 2016-2018
From: Sujit John, Photos, videos push up mobile memory size, December 18, 2017: The Times of India

High-resolution photos and videos taken on smartphones and download of TV shows are pushing up sharply the demand in India for more storage space on phones, while bigger and higher resolution screens and applications like video calling are increasing the need for higher RAM (random access memory).

The average size of internal storage in an Indian smartphone rose to 28 GB in the third quarter (July-September) of 2017. It was only 12 GB in the first quarter (January-March) of 2016, says technology market research firm Counterpoint Research. It is expected to rise to 40 GB by the end of 2018.

However, it’s still much below the global average of over 40 GB currently; the latter is expected to rise to 60 GB by the end of next year.

“Camera has been the centre of marketing everywhere and so is multimedia. So high-resolution images and video captures are the biggest driving factors for storage, alongside the ever increasing size of OS (operating system) and applications,” Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint, told TOI.

‘Serial downloads driving memory size’

An executive of a smartphone company, who did not want to be named, said a big driver of storage is also the downloading of TV shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime onto phones. He said users download them wherever free Wi-Fi is available, including many offices. Netflix and Amazon both enabled downloading some months ago.

Jackie Bao, director of product marketing in the $18-billion storage company Western Digital, said emergence of AI (artificial intelligence) in mobile apps will enable more immersive experiences and further drive storage and RAM demand in the years to come.

RAM, 4G-LTE capability, and storage size are today the three top-most features in a smartphone that consumers in India want, Counterpoint said. These are followed by camera and processor. RAM demand, too, is rising steeply. RAM is the memory that stores data and machine code when an application is active. The average RAM in smartphone shipments in Q3 of 2017 in India was 2.5 GB, up from 1.4 GB in Q1of 2016.

“Bigger higher resolution screens are the key driver along with advanced applications ––games, browsing and video calling. Expect more in future with AIbased apps and AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) apps,” Shah said. Bao said globally 70% of smartphone users watch TV and video on their phones. And higher the resolution of TV and video, the more the RAM required.

In RAM, the Indian average is higher than the global one of 2.1 GB. Shah said it is the Chinese and Indian brands that are driving higher RAM. In internal storage, smartphones with 64 GB accounted for 19% of overall shipments in Q3 of this year, up from just 3% in the corresponding period last year. Those with 32 GB accounted for 23%, up from 14% a year before. The dominant capacity has been 16 GB for close to two years, but its contribution fell to 35% in Q3, compared to 40% in Q2 of 2017.

Tax on chargers

Levy tax on chargers sold with cellphones: SC

Dec 20 2014, The Times of India

AmitAnand Choudhary

The Supreme Court has held that chargers sold with cellphones should be taxed separately as they are not part of a phone but are an accessory and turned down a plea by Nokia for treating them as a composite product.

The SC said merely making one package of a phone and a charger will not make it a composite product and quashed the Punjab and Haryana high court order which held a charger cannot be excluded from the concessional rate of tax which applies to cellphones. The case pertains to Punjab where under state Value Added Tax Act, sale of mobile phone is taxed at 4% while charger is taxed at 12.5%.

“If the charger was a part of cellphone, then cellphone could not have been operated without using the battery charger.But in reality , it is not required at the time of operation. Further, the battery in the cellphone can be charged directly from the other means also like laptop without employing the battery charger, implying thereby , that it is nothing but an accessory to the mobile phone,“ a bench of justices SJ Mukhopadhaya and Madan B Lokur said.

Usage

2017: What Indians do on the Internet with their cellphones

Shalina Pillai, 200 Minutes A Day Spent On Apps, Says Report, December 19, 2017: The Times of India

Average time spent by users on cell-mobile phones, India and the USA
From: Shalina Pillai, 200 Minutes A Day Spent On Apps, Says Report, December 19, 2017: The Times of India

Indians use their mobile phones most for social communication and entertainment. The average mobile internet user in India spends almost 70% of the time on apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, and music and entertainment apps. This is much more than by people in the US, who visit these apps for only 50% of the time they spend on the mobile phone, a report released by investment firm Omidyar Network claims. Americans spend a good amount of time also on news, commerce and gaming.

On an average, a user in India spends 200 minutes a day on mobile apps, lower than the US average of 300 minutes a day. Of the 70% of the time Indians are employed on social and entertainment, 38% is spent only on social media giant Facebook and its family of apps – Whatsapp, and Instagram. This dominance of the Facebook family in India is far greater than in the US, where their usage is only 18% of a user’s time.

Roopa Kudva, partner and MD of Omidyar Network India, says this suggests a lack of region focussed platforms in India for social communication and is an opportunity for startups. “Currently, Whatsapp and Facebook constitute 95% of social apps in India. This is just 55% in the US, where people spend their time on other local apps too. Similarly, in entertainment, You-Tube accounts for 47% of entertainment app usage in India, againstonly 17% in theUS. As the cost of data goes down, there is big opportunity for entrepreneurs to use this space. ShareChat is one app which is doing well in India, with 8 million downloads,” she said.

ShareChat allows users to share videos, jokes, GIFs, audio songs and funny images from India in Indian languages.

The Omidyar Network report, done with the objective of determining how to get the next half billion Indian internet users, was put together based on data gathered from Indus OS, analytics company ComScore, Facebook, and net-MarketShare. Indus OS is a vernacular operating system which has 7 million users in India. The analysis was done on more than 3 lakh Indians distributed across metros, and tier 1, 2, 3 towns and beyond during the period April-June 2017.

The report noted that the next half billion of internet users would come from all districts . Women are seen to be a key segment to gain. Currently, women are 36% lesslikely to own a mobile phone, and women comprise only 35% of mobile internet users and 25% of Facebook users. Reticence in using the internet by women, lack of confidence to transact online, and lack of indigenous apps for social media and communication are seen to be the key challenges that entrepreneurs will face to capture the next segment of internet users in India.

See also

Telecommunications, India: 1

Telecommunications 2: Indian government data

Cell/ Mobile phones: India

Harshita Arora

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