Apple-Retail-India

For years, the big three smartphone markets have been China, the U.S. and Japan. India now has knocked Japan out of the third spot due in part to better distribution and increased attention from Apple and Samsung, a research firm said Wednesday.

India has recently been in the spotlight as the two smartphone giants battle over the nation’s growing interest in adopting the more powerful mobile phones. As a result, consumers are bombarded with an array of buying options, perhaps explaining why Strategy Analytics is reporting 163 percent smartphone growth in India, four times the global average…

“India is now a country no major smartphone vendor, component maker or apps developer can ignore,” the research firm says.

As we’ve reported here, Apple is reaping the benefits of building a greater distribution network, as well as experimenting with such things as payment plans and discounts on its iPhone.

According to the research, India’s rate of smartphone adoption is better than China’s 86 percent, Japan’s 24 percent and the US’ 19 percent.

Along with Apple, Samsung and other smartphone makers paying greater attention to markets such as India, enhanced distribution networks mean handsets can more easily reach consumers.

Both factors have awakened a sleeping giant.

iPhone 5 (three-up, profile, front, back, black and white)

We can also throw into that mix the smartphone saturation of Western Europe and the US. Tuesday, IDC released smartphone shipment figures showing slowing smartphone demand in Western Europe, which helped depress overall mobile phone shipments during the first quarter by 4.2 percent compared to the same period in 2012.

While that report also indicated Apple’s iOS lost some market share in Western Europe, falling to 20 percent from 25 percent,  Apple apparently has adopted the notion of a lower-priced iPhone just in the nick of time.

As full-featured smartphone sales are starting to wane, we see a surge of interest in basic lower-cost smartphones in emerging nations – such as India.