Indian smartphone industry might have hit speed bumps on component supply crunch but the resilient sector is poised to see 190-200 million shipments in 2022 with more 5G devices vying for consumers' attention.
When the pandemic forced people to stay indoors, smartphones became their window to the world, helping them stay connected with friends, Work From Home (WFH) and even learn new recipes. As people embraced hybrid work models, binged on web series and shot innumerable 'Reels' to stay entertained, the demand for smartphones went up significantly even as supply faced issues.
According to Counterpoint Research Analyst Shilpi Jain, the Indian smartphone market has been experiencing a steady growth curve over the last five years, growing continuously to reach 158 million units in 2019.
"The impact of COVID-19 saw the market experiencing a minor dip showcasing its resilience. The market is now set for an accelerated growth period realising the true potential of the Indian market in the coming years crossing the 200 million mark in 2022," she said.
CyberMedia Research (CMR) Analyst – Industry Intelligence Group Anand Priya Singh estimated the smartphone shipments to hover around a similar level of 187-190 million in 2022 with a further uptick in 5G device shipments, growing 129 percent year-on-year from 28 million in 2021 to around 64 million in 2022.
Singh said there has been an 11 percent year-on-year growth in smartphone shipments from 150 million in 2020 to 167-168 million in 2021.
While 5G networks may not be available yet, industry watchers say 5G smartphones are in demand as consumers consider 5G among their top 3 priorities while purchasing smartphones.
Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth said conversations around 5G technology and devices have been buzzing since 2019 and smartphone manufacturers introduced 5G devices in early 2020.
"Given that 5G trials are scheduled for 2022, and spectrum auctions are likely to happen in H2 2022, we expect a higher demand for 5G devices in the upcoming year. Realme aims to be a 5G leader and a democratiser in India, and will therefore equip all smartphones above Rs 15,000 with 5G. We are also working towards bringing this technology to the sub-Rs 10,000 segment," he added.
The global semiconductor shortage did have an impact on the Indian smartphone market during the second half of the year. During the festive season and third quarter, the consumer demand outstripped the supply.
"We believe that the shipments could have been 10-15 percent higher during the third quarter in 2021. The semiconductor shortage will continue to affect the Indian smartphone market in 2022, however, we believe the situation will improve in the second half of the year," Counterpoint's Jain said.
Xiaomi India Chief Business Officer Raghu Reddy noted that over the last two years, the market has been witnessing a price hike of components such as chipsets, batteries and memory chips used by all smartphone manufacturers.
"This, in turn, has impacted the price of smartphones and has led to an inevitable price increase across SKUs (Stock Keeping Units)... While there continues to be a massive gap between demand and supply, we tried to bridge some of it by impressing on our Make in India Initiative," he added.
Prices of electronic components went up by an estimated 20 percent on account of disruption in the global supply chain because of semiconductor shortage and COVID pandemic restricting the movement of goods.
Realme's Sheth elucidated that over the last two years, the smartphone industry has tackled multiple challenges, chipset shortage being one of the most recent ones.
"Q3 2021 witnessed a decline in shipments, and a similar decline is expected in Q4. Supply chain shortages have also led to brands postponing the launch of new products, and have caused a slight increase in smartphone prices for consumers despite brands trying their best to absorb these internally," he added.
Sheth said since the onset of this shortage, Realme has been looking at and working on collaborations with chipset manufacturers who can provide processors to us without compromising performance. Chip shortage is likely to ease in the second quarter of 2022.
While Xiaomi and Samsung took up the top two spots in the smartphone market, Vivo, Realme, and Oppo occupied the next three positions. OnePlus, Samsung, and Apple wooed customers with their premium portfolio.
According to Counterpoint, the retail ASP (Average Selling Price) is estimated to increase 13 percent year-on-year in 2021 as smartphone volumes are transitioning towards higher price segments.
In December, the government approved a Rs 76,000 crore-scheme to boost semiconductor and display manufacturing in the country in a bid to position India as a global hub for hi-tech production and attract large chip makers.
The move would further India's ambitions to be self-reliant in electronics manufacturing, bring massive investments and result in 35,000 specialised jobs apart from indirect employment for one lakh people.
Other segments like smart TVs and TWS (earbuds) have also witnessed significant growth on the back of the increasing affordability of these products.
Smart TVs hold around 85 percent of the overall TV market and the research firm expects it to further increase.
"As per our forecast, the Indian Smart TV market is expected to grow by 30 percent in 2022. The post-pandemic economic recovery and entry of new players in the market will facilitate this growth," Jain noted.
The New Year promises to be a treat as consumers get access to not only sleeker, stunning and power-packed smartphones but also more IoT (Internet of Things) enabled devices across various price points.