Feature Phone Sales Jump 15% Fueled By JioBharat's Popularity

India’s feature phone market has experienced a significant 15% growth in the October-December quarter, reaching 20 million units, primarily driven by Reliance‘s JioBharat 4G basic phone, as reported by brokerage firm CLSA.

What Happened? In this segment, the shipments of 4G-enabled phones surged by 63% compared to the previous quarter, totalling 8.2 million units. This growth is largely attributed to the affordable pricing and popularity of JioBharat, launched at ₹999.

However, these figures still fall 61% short of the peak shipment of 21 million units for 4G feature phones. The latter half of 2023 saw a notable boost in feature phone volumes, with JioBharat playing a key role.

Despite Samsung exiting the feature phone market, brands like Transsion and Lava continue to lead, with Jio’s device contributing significantly to the market’s growth in the second half of 2023, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

See also: Google Plans To Initiate Pixel Production In India As Early As Next Quarter: Report

What’s behind the push? Analysts point out that while Jio’s rapid addition of mobile users is fueled by the demand for JioBharat, this trend is impacting the average revenue per user (ARPU), which remained flat at ₹181.70 in the third fiscal quarter. Antique Stock Broking attributes this stagnation to the increasing adoption of JioBharat, which has a lower ARPU, and the impact of free 5G data on 4G data pack sales.

Despite the rise in feature phones, smartphones still dominate 65% of India’s mobile handset shipments. However, their market share has declined by 6 percentage points quarter-over-quarter and 5 percentage points year-on-year in the December quarter, as per CLSA.

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