The Indian smartphone market is a roller coaster ride for brands trying to get on top of one another. The tough scuffle between brands to outpace rivals has brought some diversity to the market share rankings. Each quarter is favouring new brands as they see strong results and maintaining the dominant spot has become a tough job.

Counterpoint Research released its latest report, in which it has ranked the top smartphone players in the Q4 2019 in India and there are some interesting statistics that show brands' willingness to participate in the rat race. According to the report, Xiaomi, Vivo and Samsung dominated by acquiring almost three fourth of the Indian smartphone market. But are they all really the winner? Don't jump to conclusions so soon.

The big winners

If you go by the ranking, Xiaomi, Vivo and Samsung might appear as the big winners. But the reality is just one of the trio did emerge as a true champion. You'd be surprised it's not Xiaomi or Samsung - despite their dominating share.

Vivo S1 Pro launched in India
Vivo S1 Pro is one of the popular phones in the quarterVivo

Vivo won big in India in the fourth quarter of 2019 - so much that it surpassed Samsung to take the second spot only after Xiaomi. Vivo acquired a market share of 21 percent in the quarter, up from 10 percent in the same quarter the previous year. That's a whopping 132 percent increase and Vivo's offline and online strategies surely paid off well. Vivo's S-series in the offline market and foray into online sales helped Vivo hold strong ground in the Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 price segment.

Vivo wasn't alone basking in the sunlight of success in India. Not to spoil the surprise, but it is neither Samsung nor Xiaomi. Apple emerged as a big winner in the quarterly race and was one of the fastest-growing brands in Q4 2019. It may come as a surprise considering the iPhone maker did not even make it to the top five, but here's the justification.

Apple iPhone 11 series launched: Here are India details
iPhone 11 helped Apple in the quarterApple

Apple acquired a 2 percent market share with a year-on-year growth of 41 percent. In terms of growth trajectory, Apple ranked third after Vivo's 132 percent YoY growth and Oppo's 96 YoY growth. It is quite an achievement for Apple as it only caters to the premium smartphone segment.

There's no secret in how Apple succeeded in India. Multiple price cuts on iPhone XR - the most popular iPhone in India - and the well-thought pricing of its iPhone 11 made a solid impact on sales to favour Apple.

"2019 saw the fastest rollout of Apple's new iPhones (11 series) in India, with aggressive pricing and a good channel strategy. In fact, the new series especially iPhone 11 was introduced at a lower price point than the last year's iPhone XR This has helped to gain share during the festive season and in its launch quarter in India," Counterpoint Research noted.

The game of thrones

While Vivo's YoY growth was at 132 percent, Samsung stood still and Xiaomi grew just 7 percent. This is an alarming sign for these big brands.

Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite
Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and Galaxy Note 10 Lite sales might show up in Q1 2020Flipkart screenshot

The Indian smartphone market has proven tough to be tamed. For instance, Realme was at its peak with a staggering 401 percent YoY growth in Q3 2019, but it didn't last for too long. Could this happen again with a different brand? Probably. But it is also possible that the long-serving market leaders could hold the ground stronger.

Samsung, for instance, has several products lined up for 2020, including its upcoming A51 and not to forget the Galaxy S20 series. Samsung could regain its lost position in the first quarter of next year. Similarly, Xiaomi and Vivo have several launches lined up for this year and 2020 could have more surprises than we expect.