Fragmentation continues in India’s crowded mobile handsets market: new handset vendors now number 35, acccording to a report by IDC India, and accounted for 33.2% of shipments to the Indian market in the second quarter of 2010, even though Nokia retained the number 1 spot in India, with a marketshare of 36.3% of units shipped. Samsung was number two, and surprisingly, Chinese brand G’Five emerged as the number three player in India. At the end of 2009, IDC had said that there were 28 new handset vendors in the market, accounting for 12.3% of shipments to India (17.5% in October-December 2009). In 2009, Nokia had accounted for 54.1% of units sold in India. That is now history, though Nokia is trying to make a fight of it with its C Series of handsets. Their excessive time to market might be their undoing, though.

For the first half of 2010, apart from Nokia, Samsung and G’Five, Micromax, which recently raised money from Sequoia Capital India, is at number four, and BK Modi’s Spice at number five.

All in all, as per IDC, April-June 2010 mobile sales touched 38.63 million units, up 6.3% sequentially. What’s most interesting is that Multi SIM mobile phones accounted for Multi SIM mobile phones account for 38.5% of total sales, from less than 1% for the same quarter last year. Anirban Banerjee, AVP (Research) at IDC India attributes this to significantly lower Average Selling Values (ASVs) in the Indian market, particularly attracting first time buyers from small towns and villages.

Note that IDC calculates sales of mobile handsets by tracking the number of handsets that leave the factory premises for OEM sales or stocking by distributors and retailers. For imported handsets it’s the number of handsets that leaves the first warehouse to OEMs, distributors and retailers. It does not account for handsets brought in by individuals into the country or the grey market.

In 2010, expect bloodshed as margins drop, particularly at the lower end of the market, and prices are pushed down by launch of more and more Android driven handsets at the higher level from Samsung, HTC and LG.