Do Local Brands Pose a Threat for International Vendors?


8/8/2014 2:01 PM

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Over the past few years we have heard a great deal about local brands becoming a threat to major international smartphone vendors with studies and research papers appearing regularly. But is this really the case? Let's examine data from 4 countries: China, Japan, Korea and India.

Top 5 Mobile Device Vendors in China


Apple was deliberately excluded from vendors list in China to avoid distorting the data. You can still see the above chart with Apple devices included. It appears Samsung are the major player on Chinese market with around 42%, followed by HTC which managed to increase its share from 12% in June 2013 to 18% in June 2014. Huawei's share has significantly decreased to just 6% in June 2014 from 35% in August 2013. Xiaomi is considered a 'rising star' on the Chinese market and some reports suggest it has already overtaken Apple and become the second most popular smartphone brand in China. While there is no denying that Xiaomi's popularity is rising, data suggests it still has a long way to go.

Top 5 Mobile Device Vendors in Japan


Japan is the most interesting market as it does not follow the general trend. The leading, world-renown brands do not appear to be very popular among Japanese consumers. DoCoMo is the local brand that accounts for nearly 40% of the market and is gaining in popularity. While DoCoMo's success may be considered as proof of local threat to major vendors, it is merely the matter of finding the right approach for the given market. Sony managed to gain a little over 2% during the past year and now accounts for 15% of the devices. Samsung and Sharp both have around 10% of the market.

Top 5 Mobile Device Vendors in South Korea


Samsung's position is strong in it's home country - South Korea, where Samsung's share of the mobile devices market exceeds 50%. Apple is the second largest player with a share of just over 30%. It's worth highlighting that Apple's popularity has dropped 4% over the last year. The other two significant players are LG and Pantech with 7% and 5% share of the market respectively.

Top 5 Mobile Device Vendors in India


Data from India does not hold any surprises. Samsung is the most popular brand in India with 35% of the market. It would also appear that Samsung has gained 0.5% in popularity over the past year. Nokia lost 6% of the market share and now accounts for 17% of mobile devices compared to 23% in June 2013. Data about Apple is somewhat volatile, but it appears that they managed to retain a 15% share of the market. Micromax is among the successful local brands that managed to acquire and sustain a share of the local market. It is a little early to consider Micromax with its 7% share of the market as a threat for major international brands. The 5th largest player in the Indian mobile device market appears to be Sony with an increase in share from 4.5% of the market in June 2013 to around 6% in June 2014.


With the exception of Japan there is currently very little evidence that smaller local brands pose a serious immediate threat to major international mobile vendors. An increase in the amount of smaller companies is natural due to the expansion of the market over recent years and thus gaining a sufficient amount of consumers to sustain smaller companies. Some smaller vendors are more appealing to consumers than others which grants them a larger share of the market. In cases such as Xiaomi or Micromax, a local vendor could adopt the right strategy for the local market which could lead to great popularity of the brand, as we have seen with Japanese DoCoMo. Therefore we can conclude that local brands are a threat to international mobile device vendors in the long run, but the international vendors still have time and resources to adjust their strategies in order to retain the market presence and share.


The data used for this analysis represents devices that access the Internet and not the actual sales, therefore it may be slightly distorted. However the general view should not be very dissimilar as consumers worldwide are actively using those devices to access the Internet, therefore each vendor's fraction of the market should be accurately represented.