Samsung (probably) dethroned in India by local rival Micromax

Samsung, however, claims a higher share of the market

Samsung Electronics has lost its top position in the Indian smartphone market to local player Micromax, according to research firm Canalys, but the South Korean company is contesting the figures.

The dispute comes in the wake of reports that Samsung lost its number-one ranking in China's smartphone market. Six months ago, Canalys announced that Xiaomi had beaten Samsung to the top spot in China, while IDC put Lenovo first, Xiaomi second, and Samsung third.

Micromax had a 22 percent share of the Indian smartphone market in the fourth quarter of 2014, ahead of Samsung's 20 percent share, according to Canalys. Micromax sold 4.6 million smartphones in the fourth quarter in contrast to 4.4 million sold by Samsung.

Samsung's loss of the top position to Micromax is not unlikely, as it has been hit by more aggressive marketing by Apple at the high end and low-cost players like Xiaomi at the low end. Both Apple and Xiaomi are increasingly relying on deals with operators to sell their phones.

Samsung hit back after the Canalys report was released. It cited data from another research firm, GfK, to claim that Samsung's volume market share in the fourth quarter was 34.3 percent while its value market share was 35.8 percent. The GfK data is based on actual retail sales in cities with population higher than 50,000, Samsung said.

Samsung did not cite GfK numbers for Micromax, and GfK did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request to confirm the numbers.

Neither IDC nor Gartner have released smartphone market share figures for the Indian market for the fourth quarter. IDC had placed Samsung's market share in the third quarter of 2014 at 24 percent to Micromax's 20 percent. Samsung lost share from 29 percent in the previous quarter, reflecting growing competition.

Fourth-quarter smartphone shipments in India jumped 90 percent year over year, with 21.6 million units shipped, according to Canalys. The other top players in the country by units shipped were Karbonn and Lava, both local players.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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