The shipments of 4G featurephone expected to more than double to 40 million from 18-19 million in 2017 and Reliance Industries’ JioPhone is likely to continue to lead the space.
The segment boosted by Jio Phone and Reliance Jio’s aggressive 49 a month recharge plan, will see more vendors such as HMD Global, makers of Nokia devices, and China’s Transsion come into the fray. Besides, Finland’s Jolla plans to bring in its new Sailfish operating system for 4G feature phones, its CEO Sami Pienimäki told ET.
This year, Counterpoint Research and International Data Corp. (IDC) estimates more than one in three feature phones shipped in India to have 4G capabilities and Cyber Media Research sees the shipment of such devices will “easily achieve 40 million.”
In 2017, around 18-19 million 4G feature phones were shipped in India, which was around 10-12% of the overall feature phone shipments. JioPhone had captured a 97% of the 4G feature phone market in 2017.
Pavel Naiya, senior analyst - devices and ecosystem at Counterpoint Research said "It is a sizable market to accommodate multiple mobile OEMs (original equipment makers) looking to bundle offers with operators to maximize customer lifetime value".
Jio and these new vendors are targeting a bulk of the roughly 500 million basic phone users who have not upgraded to smartphones for reasons of affordability and use cases. Home-bred players like Lava and Micromax had already launched their devices but haven’t seen much success due to strong competition from Jio Phone.
Jaipal Singh, senior market analyst at IDC India, said Jio will continue to be the prime contributor to the majority of the 4G feature phone shipments in India, and “volume from new vendors will remain very small… mostly their devices will be targeted to a niche segment with more altered use cases.”
Jio recently reinforced its commitment towards KaiOS operating system that powers the Jio Phone by acquiring a 16% stake in the US-based company for $7 million cash. But this OS is set to get more competition shortly.