India overtakes Japan as third largest smartphone market

Smartphone use in India is growing four times faster than the global average, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

India is now the third biggest smartphone market in the world.

During the first quarter of 2013, smartphone sales in India jumped by 163 percent over the prior year's quarter, Strategy Analytics said on Wednesday. In comparison, smartphone volume over the same period rose by 86 percent in China, 24 percent in Japan, and 19 percent in the United States. The global average came in at 39 percent.

India's surge in smartphone use helped it swipe the third spot from Japan for the first time ever. It now ranks behind the U.S. in first place and China in second place.

What's behind India's growth? Major global players like Apple and Samsung are pushing their phones through better distribution networks, according to Strategy Analytics' Handset Country Share Tracker. But local vendors are actually the major beneficiaries of the jump in smartphone adoption.

Indian companies Micromax, Karbonn, and Spice are enjoying annual growth in smartphone sales between 200 and 500 percent. So-called "microvendors" such as Lemon Mobile have seen sales skyrocket by more than 1,000 percent. Such vendors mostly deal in Android phones, the report added.

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