Year 2016 has indeed been the year of smartphones for right reasons or wrong as these powerful-yet-affordable devices pushed India ahead of the US as the world's second-largest Internet userbase, with 2017 promising to be even better.
The cheapest one came for just Rs 251 while another made global headlines for catching fire Year in 2016.
The year started with a little-known company called 'Ringing Bells' making global noise with its Rs 251- smartphone. While the industry was up in arms to saymanufacturing such a device was not feasible even in China, customers stayed logged onto their computers for hours together in the hope of being able to register to buy the device.
Ringing Bells did manage to deliver a few of the promised handsets, but it was not without its share of controversy, with allegations that the company had merely cloaked and passed on another company's device as its own.
A trend that clearly emerged from the event was India is hungry for affordable innovation. So, it is no surprise that the sub-Rs 10,000 category forms over 50 per cent of the Indian smartphone market.
The category has flourished further, with domestic majors like Micromax and Lava bringing in multiple devices. However, this segment was also one of the worst-hit by the government's move to scrap old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes.
In the days that followed the announcement, companies saw their sales dipping by as much as 50 per cent, hurt by the double-whammy of cash shortage and cyclical dip that is seen post Diwali. According to Gartner Research Director Anshul Gupta, smartphone shipment in India is expected to be a little lower at about 120 million units this year, impacted by demonetisation.
"Despite this, Indian market is growing at a healthy pace compared to 4-5 per cent growth being seen in global markets. India would continue to be one the fastest growing markets globally," he added.
Companies are hopeful that 2017 will ring in good news and sales will return to healthy growth clip like that seen in the previous year. A gamechanger this year was the entry of Reliance Jio into the Indian market.
With its promise of free calls for lifetime and data at one-fifth of the market rates, Reliance's foray sent sales of 4G phones in India skyrocketing, especially in the second half of the year.
"Over the past few years, there has been a tremendous growth in consumers' mobile data demand and consumption patterns. Digital revolution in India has further led to a paradigm shift from 3G to 4G, and to tap this trend, various mobile players are offering innovative and affordable devices bundled with offers and cost-effective VAS services," Intex Director Nidhi Markanday said.
While affordable devices have done well in terms of shipment numbers, it has been the mid and premium categories that have been the revenue drivers for handset makers.