India’s relations with China have been a bit rocky lately due to the border skirmish with Chinese troops close to Tibet in June. The anti-China sentiments in India have led to calls for a boycott of Chinese products and services in the past few months. However, the Chinese smartphone market in India is not bounded by the military standoff. According to a recent report from Canalys, Chinese vendors comprised 76% of total smartphone shipments in the third quarter, which has increased 2% from 2019.
“Ongoing tension between India and China has been a hot topic in the past few months, but we have yet to see a significant impact on purchase decisions of mass-market customers,” said Canalys research analyst Varun Kannan. “However, the tensions have caused Chinese smartphone brands to act more conservatively in recent months, reducing their marketing spend, and carefully trying to project the image that they are important contributors to, and stakeholders in, the economic future of India.”
The anti-China narrative lost its ground in India’s smartphone segment. According to the report, top Asian vendors like Xiaomi, Samsung, Vivo, realme, and Oppo saw a significant uptick in their shipments in the third quarter compared with last year. According to the Print, the sales of these four Chinese brands surged by 1.7 million to 6.3 million this year compared to 2019.
Among these top five Asian smartphone brands in India, realme saw the greatest annual growth in 2020. Per Canalys, realme had a 23% surge in annual growth, following by Vivo’s 19%, and Xiaomi’s 9%.
Headquartered in Shenzhen, realme commands a market share of 14%, according to Q1 2020 Counterpoint smartphone shipments market share report. “Right now, more than 60% of realme smartphones, such as screens, batteries, and internal structures are purchased and made in India,” said Madhav Sheth, CEO of realme India.
China and India have worked closely on technology development over the last five years. India and China have enabled each other’s rise as emerging technology powerhouses. In addition, Chinese investors have invested around $4 billion in Indian tech startups since 2015, as estimated by Gateway House.
“I don’t think there’s a widespread understanding of how difficult it would be to completely reduce India’s reliance on China,” said Ananth Krishnan, a former Brookings India writer.
We are hoping to see the growth of the Chinese smartphone market in India mend the broken relationship between China and India soon.