Nokia's market share in India dropped to 36 percent in the second quarter from 54 percent in the same period last year, reflecting the growing share of Chinese and Indian vendors of low-end mobile phones, according to research firm IDC India.
Nokia's share of the market was also likely hurt because it did not have a product in the market that could support multiple SIMs, a spokesman for research firm IDC India said on Tuesday. The share of phones with dual and triple SIM card slots has grown to 38.5 percent of total mobile handset shipments in the second quarter, from less than 1 percent in the same quarter last year, IDC said on Tuesday.
Nokia introduced its first dual-SIM model, called C2, last month in India.
Users are buying phones that support more than one SIM to take advantage of a variety of plans offered by different service providers.
The advantage of Chinese and local players may, however, go beyond just providing phones with more than one SIM card, the IDC spokesman said. Indian and Chinese players have focused on the market for low-priced phones, which is the largest. About 40.4 percent of phone shipments in the second quarter were of phones priced at less than US$50 while another 48.6 percent were of phones priced in the $50 to $100 price range.
Nokia does not have many very low-cost models, the IDC spokesman said.
Nokia late Tuesday questioned IDC's results saying, among other things, that "shipments are not equivalent to actual sales and market shares." It did not however disclose its own estimate of its market share. Nokia continues to do well in India across all segments, the company said.
Indian and Chinese vendors are making inroads at the low end of the mobile phone market in India by offering a combination of features such as dual SIM, powerful speakerphones and battery backup for up to 30 days that are appropriate for the low-end market, Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, said recently.
These vendors have stripped some of the features like camera and Wi-Fi to lower costs and instead focused on features like long battery life which are so critical in rural markets, he added.
Shipments of mobile handsets in India were 38.6 million in the second quarter, up by 60 percent from the same quarter last year, according to IDC.
The share of new Indian and Chinese brands has gone up to 33.2 percent in the second quarter up from 17.5 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, according to IDC. One Chinese brand, G'Five, has taken the third position in the market, after Nokia and Samsung, with a 7.3 percent market share, IDC said.
The market for Indian and Chinese brands is, however, fragmented among about 35 brands, according to IDC. Many vendors in this segment are not consistent in their focus on the market, and often just sell small numbers of phones off and on, the IDC spokesman said.
Indian vendors typically get the phones contract manufactured in China or Taiwan, and sell them with their brands. Bigger players, including Beetel Teletech Limited have also entered the market. Beetel is part of the Bharti Enterprises group which includes Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile operator.