New Delhi: India’s smartphone market is expected to rebound to double-digit growth, between 12-21%, in 2021 after two years of muted sales, according to forecasts by leading market trackers.

Smartphone sales grew 29% in 2015, fell 5% in 2016 owing to demonetisation, then recovered to 14% in 2017 and 2018, as per IDC India. But in 2019, it grew at 8% and is expected to end 2020 flat year-on-year because of the economic impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

Research firm Canalys estimates smartphone shipments to reach 172.6 million this calendar year, growing 15% from 150.2 million in 2020. Whereas CyberMedia Research (CMR) is estimating a growth of 12% to cross 170 million shipments versus 152 million in 2020. Another research firm TechArc has pegged total shipments at 168 million, up 14% on-year from its 2020 estimates of 148 million. Counterpoint Research’s growth estimate is at 21% this year, or shipment of 179 million units versus 150 million in 2020.

“We believe that the economic environment will improve in 2021 which will lead to increase in consumer spending and thus, driving the demand,” Counterpoint said in a statement. “Also, India still has a significant 2G subscriber base which may want to upgrade to a 4G smartphone, which will also drive the market.”

Analysts said as the Indian smartphone market achieved sizeable penetration two years back, 2021 will see the replacement cycle mature, which will be the major contributor to growth. Launch of affordable 4G and 5G smartphones by the likes of Reliance Jio is also expected to excite the existing user base of 400 million feature phone users to migrate.

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Counterpoint also believes that 5G smartphone shipments will increase by more than 10-fold in 2021 as major brands launch their 5G devices in the sub-INR 20,000 price band.

“This is likely a push from brands and early adopters who want to be future-ready, even when 5G connectivity is not available,” it said.

It also expects the offline sales channel to rebound to 58% market share this year as major brands expand their offline presence and consumers bank on the offline experience when buying a smartphone.

“India remains an underpenetrated market, compared to other smartphone markets. The headroom for growth is large, and especially in Aspirational India,” said Amit sharma, analyst-Industry Intelligence Group, CMR.

Given that smartphones have become central to consumer lives, the growth in 2021, will be fueled by consumer demand driven by work from home and learning from home needs, he added.



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