Apple, Blackberry, and Nokia, Are Fighting For Share in This Booming Smartphone Market

Smartphone shipments in India are expected to surge next year. Can Blackberry, Apple, and Nokia benefit in this budget-conscious environment?

Jul 15, 2014 at 12:00PM

It seems that the Indian smartphone industry will continue to outperform globally. With the introduction of several low-cost smartphones and discounted data tariffs, smartphone shipments in the country surged 244% during fiscal year 2014, according to India-based Manufacturer's Association of Information Technology. 

The industry body, going forward, estimates the Indian smartphone industry will double in size during fiscal year 2015; gradually increasing 3G penetration rate and the introduction of next-gen 4G network will compel consumers to upgrade their smartphones. Let's see what Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Blackberry (NASDAQ:BBRY), and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) are doing to capture this explosive expected growth. 

Boosting affordability
Long-standing premium smartphone vendor Apple is globally known for its expensive but high-quality products. And to grab a substantial market share in India, Apple is trying to boost its affordability-factor among middle-income Indians.

For instance, Deutsche Bank recently found that iPhone 5s has been priced -- in terms of U.S dollars -- lower in India than several other international markets. Plus, the 8GB iPhone 5c variant, under a promotional buyback scheme, is currently available for about $490 in the country -- down from its launch price of $625.

This kind of strategic pricing, along with Apple's aggressive advertising campaigns in popular Indian media outlets, seems to have contributed immensely toward the smartphone vendor's growth in the country.

Tim Cook recently noted, "[During the second quarter of fiscal year 2014] iPhone sales grew by strong double-digits year-over-year, and in India and Vietnam sales more than doubled." 

Needless to say, Apple India is doing a commendable job. Going forward, if speculative reports are to be believed, the upcoming iPhone 6 will be priced lower than the current iPhone 5s. In that case, the increased affordability factor might as well contribute in boosting Apple's growth in the country.

Apple India had a 1.7% volume-based market share in the quarter ended December, according to IDC.

Expanding product line
Nokia, on the other hand, is aiming to reach a broad spectrum of consumers. For instance, its Lumia range consists 14 smartphones within a price band of $140-$700. Its latest Android-based X series currently offers three smartphone variants priced between $120-$190. 

The Finnish giant recently added Lumia 630, 635, 930, and Nokia X2 to its already diversified product portfolio. 

Market tracker CMR estimates that smartphones selling within a price band of $250-$330, represent about 8% of the total smartphone sales in India. This suggests that Nokia's wide range of smartphone offerings are favorably priced and well-positioned to lure a huge base of budget-conscious Indian consumers. 

Nokia India enjoyed a healthy 17.5% volume-based market share during the first quarter of fiscal year 2014, according to CMR India.

Entering the budget-friendly territory
Even Blackberry appears to be showing some promise lately. The Canadian smartphone vendor had slashed its Z10 prices by 60% in past February, under a 60-day limited-period offer. Shortly after, the company ran out of Z10 stock. But now that the promotional period is over, Blackberry hasn't rolled back its prices. 

The financially troubled smartphone giant also slashed its Z30 prices by 15% last month under a limited 60-day promotional offer. Gauging by Z10's recent pricing history, however, it is highly unlikely that the smartphone vendor will roll back its prices. 

In addition, Blackberry recently introduced its latest OS 10-based Z3 in India. Priced at about $250, the Z3 provides competitive hardware and a phablet-experience to budget-conscious consumers. 

This kind of strategic pricing should, in theory, contribute in winning back some of Blackberry India's lost market share -- which stood at 0.83% during 2013.

Foolish final thoughts
India is the third largest and the fastest growing smartphone market. And to capture this explosive growth potential, Apple, Nokia, and Blackberry are competing on price. Investors, therefore, might want to keep a close eye on how their marketing campaigns contribute in boosting their market share.

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Piyush Arora has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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