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A combination of growing demand for smartphones by mobile users in India and deep discounts by online retailers are helping drive smartphone shipments in India to new highs. According to research by marketing intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC), smartphone shipments in India grew to 25.6 million units in Q4 2015, an increase of 15.4% over Q4 2014. IDC estimated that full-year 2015 smartphone shipments in India would reach 103.6 million units, or a 28.8% increase over the year prior.
A number of market changes in India are contributing to the growing demand. One factor suggested by IDC is the heavy discounting of devices by online Indian retailers including Snapdeal, Flipkart and Amzon. But perhaps the most important factor is the rise of mobile phone users in India, who are upgrading their current feature phones to smartphones. eMarketer estimates that nearly 30% of mobile phone users in India, or more than 204 million individuals, will be smartphone users in 2016, a growth rate of 21.5% over the year prior.
So far, the key beneficiaries of this growing demand have been Chinese smartphone manufacturers. IDC also found that India's Q4 2015 smartphone shipment numbers were down 11.9% over the previous quarter, a statistic the firm attributed to lower-than-expected shipments by home-grown Indian manufacturers. But even while Indian shipments decreased, China-based vendors helped pick up the slack. IDC's analysis of smartphone vendor share in India by country of origin found that China-based vendor share grew by 7% between Q4 2014 and Q4 2015.
As economic uncertainty continues to rile the Chinese consumer market, this boost in Indian smartphone sales may help Chinese vendors shore up weakening sales at home.
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