70% of over 10,000+ Indian smartphone consumers polled by Digit Research Labs across multiple social media platforms have voted in favour of halting their purchases of Chinese smartphones, given China's decision to block the global ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed Chief Masood Azhar.
The question put forward to Digit's 3.5mn+ subscriber base across social networks was - "Will China's decision to block blacklisting of JeM Chief Masood Azhar affect your smartphone purchase decisions with respect to Chinese brands?"
The Facebook, Twitter and Instagram polls gathered more than 10,000 votes across all of Digit's social media properties, including our vernacular pages in Hindi, Bangla, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Tamil. While a clear majority voted in favour of not buying Chinese smartphones across all social avenues, 30 per cent of the poll takers did not dismiss Chinese phones and said that they will continue buying them.
While the vote clearly tilted towards avoiding Chinese smartphones, the comments received on the poll brought out several interesting observations made by stakeholders. A majority of the comments expressed the inability of Indians to ignore Chinese smartphones given a lack of viable alternatives in the market. Many in the audience also pointed at the dearth of indigenous resources in India to develop and manufacture smartphones locally, leaving users with no option but to buy phones made by Chinese OEMs.
"Every 5 out of 10 products around you are made in China. They are so deeply involved in our daily life that we won't be able to boycott them even if we wanted to, not just smartphones but everything, just look around," said a participant from Uttar Pradesh.
"Practically, China is the electronic capital of the world. Even Apple is manufactured in China. You can't boycott Chinese products. If we talk about smartphones, Xiaomi and Honor have max shares in the Indian market for mid range. People buy them because they are best in the segment and we as a consumer want the best value for money," commented another participant.
The stronghold of Chinese smartphone makers in India was very apparent from the opinions expressed by the consumers. It is true that Chinese smartphone vendors, including OnePlus, Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo command almost 60 per cent market share in India and the same was reflected in the comments made by Digit's Facebook audience.
"Before banning all Chinese products, do we have the capability to develop equivalent products indigenously? Almost all of our consumer electronic goods are either made in China or assembled in China. Hence, banning Chinese products in retaliation for supporting terrorism, when we don't have the indigenous replacements for these products, would be an emotional knee-jerk reaction. The idea to ruin China economically would be to change our Colonial era rote-learning education system to a more vocational one so that we can innovate at our own backyard," commented a Pune-based participant.
While some consumers who participated in our poll said that they find it impossible to ignore Chinese electronics, including smartphones, many felt that it is difficult to find the value for money and best-in-class features on non-Chinese smartphones. There were also those who felt that buying Made-In-India Chinese phones like those from Xiaomi, OnePlus and others are a viable alternative to buying phones that are imported into the country.