NEW DELHI: Even as anti-Chinese sentiment gathers steam across the country, the hold of the dragon on the Indian electronics market remains strong. Chinese companies registered sales of nearly Rs 1.4 lakh crore in the Indian electronics market last year as they dominated the fast-growing categories of smartphones, televisions, laptops, and even smart bands and watches.
This has been at the cost of Indian brands such as Micromax, Lava, Intex and Karbonn, and MNCs from countries such as South Korea (Samsung & LG) and Japan (Sony). In 2019, the Chinese brands closed the year with a share of 71% in the revenue-intensive smartphones category, and this further increased to 81% in the first quarter (January-March) of this year, according to numbers sourced from Counterpoint research.
While Chinese brands such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and RealMe strengthened, it was a sad story for the homegrown Indian brands that finished 2019 with only 1.6% share, which further dipped to under 1% in the first quarter of 2020, Prachir Singh, a research analyst at Counterpoint, said. Such has been the onslaught of the Chinese brands that even the well-entrenched Korean Samsung has been made to play second fiddle, much to its discomfort (as it recently also bid adieu to its business in China). Apple is the only other non-Chinese MNC that does business, but even its share remains marginal.
A Xiaomi spokesperson said, “We witnessed a strong demand for our products during the lockdown and the same is now gradually rising … we continue to ramp up our manufacturing capacities.” Phones are not the only category that the Chinese are vying for. Finding India to be a willing market, they are fastexpanding into various other categories such as TVs, smart bands, and smart watches. Companies such as Lenovo already hold a significant share in computers. Does India possess the wherewithal to take on the dragon?
“Doubtful,” say most of the players involved in the industry. “The anti-Chinese rhetoric is not a long-term solution. We need a fresh strategy to counter the Chinese, but it will take at least two-to-three years to roll out. Till then, we have to depend on China and there is no other strong alternative,” Pardeep Jain, MD of Jaina group and Karbonn Mobiles, told TOI. Chinese are also main suppliers of components for phones manufactured in India, and if there is any disruption here, production and new launches will be hit.
Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC, said Indian brands lack the profile to stand up to the Chinese. “Without the Chinese, the consumer doesn’t have much choice. In case of any punitive action, consumers and nearly 1.5 lakh m