JioPhone pips Samsung to become India's top featurephone brand

JioPhone has become the No 1 feature phone brand in the quarter to December by shipments, overthrowing market leader Samsung in the segment for the first time, on the back of massive volumes it shipped in the closing months of 2017, said Counterpoint Research.
According to data exclusively available with ET, Reliance Retail's JioPhone - the first feature phone to support 4G Voice over LTE (VoLTE) technology, which is being offered for effectively free with its initial paid amount to be fully refunded after three years-had a 27% share of the segment of the market that comprises of devices typically under ₹2,000.
Samsung followed with a 17% share, trailed by Micromax at No 3, ahead of China's Itel and Nokia, the Hong Kong-based research firm said.
High volumes of JioPhone also expanded the feature phone market size by 43% on-year to 50 million in the quarter, much higher than the usual 30-35 million shipped in a month. Overall feature phone shipments surged by 51% year on year and a massive 32% sequentially, when compared to the 10-12% and 6-7% that the industry generally ships, respectively.
"JioPhone brought in huge volumes in the quarter, due to which it was able to surpass Samsung, which typically leads this segment," said Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint. "The device saw traction as feature phone users moved to the JioPhone and could use the similar form factor device to consume data as against the voice only earlier."
Reliance Jio has recently said that it would look at a strong ramp up and relaunch of the JioPhone from next month, after having resolved supply issues of battery and chipsets that had constrained shipments initially. It had sold over 6 million handsets in the first phase since the start of bookings late August. Bookings were discontinued soon after, and resumed in November.
People familiar with the matter added that Reliance Retail has shipped over 15 million JioPhones in the October-December period, of which most came in during the latter months. Of this, around 80% have been sold to consumers.
Reliance Retail and Reliance Jio did not comment on future shipments, sales or tariff plans, while Samsung did not comment on the changed rankings.
"There were certain supply constraints that we faced, which have been overcome. Now, you will see more of such phones," Reliance Jio's strategy head Anshuman Thakur had said.
To make the JioPhone more attractive, Jio has also further increased the daily data allowance for the Rs 153 a month plan, including Rs 99 as Prime membership for a year, associated with JioPhone to 1.5 GB from 1GB, starting January 26.
The buyers though can choose any plan, provided the yearly recharge is a minimum Rs 1,500 to be eligible for the refund.