With the boycott China sentiment growing strong in India, many have been also calling for boycott of Chinese smartphone brands. However, a look at the recent sales of these smartphones tells a different story.
Premium smartphone maker OnePlus saw its flagship OnePlus 8 Pro being sold out within minutes of going on sale on Thursday on e-commerce portal Amazon India.
While OnePlus 8 and 8 Pro were launched in April, the devices were not brought into the Indian market given the lockdown. The sale of OnePlus 8 in India started on May 18, and that of OnePlus 8 Pro began on June 15.
OnePlus had previously said it is witnessing huge demand for the OnePlus 8 Series 5G in India, and it is working on ensuring a consistent supply of these devices. Until then, it will continue with limited sales twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays.
While OnePlus and Amazon India did not comment on the number of devices put on sale on June 18 (Thursday), industry watchers said OnePlus is a popular brand in India and that could be one of the reasons for the devices being sold out within minutes.
Realme’s smartphone Narzo 10a, which went on sale on June 19 too was sold out within minutes of launch on Flipkart.
As per an Indian Express report, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is the highest selling smartphone brand in India, said two of its laptop models sold out in India within two days of launch on Wednesday.
Four of the top five smartphone brands in India (Xiaomi, Vivo, Realme and Oppo) are from China, and accounted for almost 76% share of the 32.5 million smartphones shipped in India in the March 2020 quarter (according to IDC data).
South Korea's Samsung, which ranked third and cornered 15.6% share of shipment in the said quarter, is the only non-Chinese firm in the top five tallies.
OnePlus, Samsung and Apple are the key players in the Indian premium smartphone market (phones priced above Rs 30,000).
India is the second-largest smartphone market after China and clocked a shipment of 152.5 million smartphones in 2019.
While Chinese mobile phone makers and consumer durables companies have refrained from commenting on the issue, several industry executives have claimed that there is no impact on sales yet on account of the anti-Chinese sentiments.
Factors like almost two months of lockdown and people working and studying from home have created a pent-up demand for smartphones, and many firms have had to resort to expensive imports to meet the spurt in demand, they said.
However, Chinese firms are keeping a close watch on the developments and monitoring the situation on ground as well as on social media.
Interestingly, a report by Counterpoint Research on Friday found the anti-China sentiment being the highest among Indian consumers in a survey it conducted during May-June 2020 covering seven countries. The survey sought to gauge consumer sentiment about smartphones manufactured in China given that the Wuhan region of China was the starting point of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More than half of the respondents from India have a negative attitude towards Made-in-China products or Chinese smartphone brands, the survey pointed out adding that around four in 10 respondents said they will not buy Made-in-China products or smartphones from Chinese brands.
Harping on ‘Made in India’ sentiment
To counter this sentiment, many brands have recently initiated ''Made in India'' and nationalistic campaigns, Counterpoint said.
We have decided to highlight Made-in-India in our packaging more prominently now onwards, a Tecno Mobile official told PTI on Thursday.
Realme India CEO Madhav Seth, CEO in a YouTube series said I can proudly say that Realme is an Indian startup, which is now a global multinational company".
Realme is one of the brand controlled by BBK Electronics of China. It has other brands like Techno, Transsion, Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus.
There has been no visible change among the consumers for Chinese products - either for mobile or any other white goods.
"Till now there is no visibility about any disruption.
We had seen some short-term impact during the Dokalam standoff in the past," a mobile company official said.
Demands have shot up and dealers are asking for products. There has been supply constraints due to limited manufacturing due to COVID-19, he said.
New models of Vivo, Realme are lined up for their launch on June 23 and June 25 on Flipkart.
A Realme official said the company's plant is running in a limited capacity due to social distancing and production is limited.
Chinese companies are meanwhile exercising caution about its expatriates and advisories have been issued about not moving out unless necessary.
However, no Chinese company spoke about it officially.