With each quarter, the feature phone market seems more and more interesting, with a few new players and one “old” brand disrupting the market. At the end of 2017, Indian operator Reliance Jio launched its 4G feature phone practically free, but locking users to their network for a longer period of time. This strategy proved to be a total success in terms of sales of the Jio phone, because already in its first quarter (Q4 2017), Jio had become the No.1 feature phone brand in India with 26% of the market share.
Contrary to popular belief that feature phones are dying, on a global level it’s quite opposite. According to Counterpoint Research, the global feature phone market grew 38% in Q1 2018 compared to Q1 2017, with HMD Global and Jio driving the growth. A more shocking fact is that 43% of all feature phones shipped globally were in India. Nokia feature phones took the second spot on a global level in terms of volume with 14% market share, as we already reported here. Jio was No.1 with 15%, despite selling just one device in just one market. Samsung, the company that de-throned Nokia as the No.1 feature phone brand few years ago, fell on place 4 in Q1 2018 with 6% of market share.
HMD’s best selling Nokia feature phone, at the same time and best selling Nokia phone overall in Q1 2018, was the ultra-affordable Nokia 105. The 105 took 7% of the global market share, while JioPhone alone took 15%. Another relatively unknown company that found its place on the feature phone market in Q1 2018 was iTel, capturing 13%, of the market share.
The disruption Jio caused in the feature phone market shows us that the same strategy could be copied in other parts of the world. It’s clear that a demand for feature phones, especially 4G feature phone exists, and I’m a little mad HMD doesn’t already have a real answer to Jio phone in India or in other similarly developed markets (the 8110 4G isn’t that and it isn’t even available yet). All in all, the feature phone market seems more interesting than the current smartphone market, where the biggest innovation in last 2 years we saw were a different display ratio and a notch. Even Jolla is making Sailfish available for feature phones. 🙂
What do you think about the developments in the feature phone market?