A year ago, Reliance Jio’s feature phone market share was 0%, but within just nine months, the company has turned the tables around and has become the leading feature phone company in the country. According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor service, India’s overall mobile phone shipments grew 48% YoY in Q1 2018. The market was driven by the feature phone segment which doubled in Q1 2018 due to strong shipments of Reliance JioPhone, while the smartphone market remained flat YoY. Thanks to strong shipments of JioPhone, the Mukesh Ambani-led company grabbed a market share of whopping 35.8% beating other players such as Samsung, itel hands down.
Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, commenting on the surprising growth of feature phones, added, “The demand for JioPhone continued through Q1 2018 as Reliance Jio’s feature phone market share raced from 0% last year to 36% in Q1 2018. This demand was catalysed by the introduction of a cheaper data plan, for the JioPhone in January: INR 49 (< US$ 1) per month including unlimited voice calling and 1GB of data per month.”
Coupled with the Jio’s aggressive tariff plan strategy is the aggressive marketing. These days the hoardings for JioPhone are everywhere, which is another reason why Jio is able to achieve the success in the market. “Additionally, Jio has been aggressively promoting JioPhone as “India’s free smartphone” though technically, a smart feature phone to attract the large base of 2G voice users which prefer the simpler feature phone form-factor. Further, the lack of vernacular/regional content, UI and good quality smartphones below INR 2,700 (US$ 40) has been some of the driving factors for JioPhone’s growth,” Pathak added.
The Reliance JioPhone is one of the cheapest feature phones out there, but what separates it from others is the support for 4G VoLTE connectivity.
Reliance Jio now has a market share of 35.8% at the end of March 2018, which is the highest ever in a single quarter, since what Nokia achieved at its peak. Samsung’s feature phone market is down to 9.8% from 25.4% in Q1 2017, which is unbelievable, but the market leader is not able to stop the JioPhone sales. Nokia, which launched a couple of feature phones last year grabbed a market share of 7.3%, which is followed by Lava for the fifth position with 5.6% share.