(Yicai Global) Feb. 27 -- All top 10 smartphone sales rankings in India in last year's fourth quarter were Chinese brands -- except for Samsung -- between the claiming over 50 percent of market share, the latest research data show.
Chinese state media People's Daily toured the stores of OPPO Electronics Corp. and Xiaomi Inc. in India and interviewed consumers and business executives in a search for the secret to Chinese mobile phones' success.
Huge billboards in a road in South Delhi project out from several smartphone stores. OPPO and Vivo's green and blue billboards add a touch of modernity to the street. At a mobile phone shop in the middle which is packed with an array of handset advertisements of varying sizes, the shop owner said the store sells 22 mobile phone brands, of which 10 are from China.
OPPO has a space within the complex with a huge advertisement behind the approximately two-meter long counter. This, the brand's first store in South Delhi, opened in 2014. The shop only sold about 10 phones per month then but has now reached 40 to 50 in three years, a shop clerk said.
An electronic engineer was choosing a smartphone for his wife who likes selfies. This is a feature for which OPPO is well-known, but it also has a face-recognition screen unlock function. This handy feature came as a surprise to him, so he quickly opted to buy the phone.
OPPO has conducted many studies in the Indian market in cooperation with research institutes such as Nielsen. It found youngsters are very fond of taking pictures, especially selfies, which is a very good starting point for the brand, said Li Bingzhong, OPPO vice president and head of its overseas handset division. The firm launched its flagship mobile phone in India in 2016 and tailored it to the specific needs of Indian users who, e.g. eschew excessive skin lightening, preferring to maintain their original pigmentation.
Customers also thronged a Xiaomi phone store in a South Delhi mall, lining up to buy mobile phones, which surprised the China Daily reporter. The shop manager explained it was payday and people wanted to buy their favorite smartphones as soon as they could. A soldier liked Xiaomi's mobile phones very much because they are high-quality and inexpensive, he said.
This is Xiaomi's first physical store in South Delhi and opened in August last year and business is booming, a Xiaomi sales manager said. The handset maker now has more than 20 stores in India and hopes to have 100 by the end of this year.
Like OPPO, Xiaomi also tailored its products to the features of the Indian market. Xiaomi designed a unique operating system for India market with convenient local characteristics and designed a special charger to ease problems stemming from unstable current, Xiaomi senior vice president Wang Xiang said. India is hot, so to prevent battery overheating, Xiaomi specially coated the phone. It also transformed the card slot into a '2+1,' which can use two communication cards and a memory card, since Indians like to watch videos.
Indian Prime Minister Modi's Made in India initiative and rising import tariffs on mobile phones prompted Xiaomi and OPPO set up factories in India. The latter has established an assembly plant in Noida, Uttar Pradesh with an annual output of 10 million phones that created more than 4,000 new jobs in the area. The second phase of the plant has also been under construction and is about to go into production. OPPO has signed a memorandum of understanding with the local government to build a future industrial park. The firm's mobile phone products sold in India are all now produced locally.