The fight to be the top selling smartphone brand in India took an interesting turn on Wednesday with research firm Canalys saying in a report that home-grown handset manufacturer Micromax has emerged the country’s top smartphone vendor for the first time. Within minutes Samsung Electronics countered the report stating that it continues to be the market leader.

While Canalys said Micromax’s smartphone market share rose to 22 per cent in the fourth quarter of calendar year 2014, bettering Samsung’s 20 per cent, the South Korean giant quoted numbers from another research firm GFK India to claim that its volume market share in the October-December 2014 quarter was 34.3 per cent, which was double than that of Micromax.

Who is right? Canalys numbers are based on the units shipped, which includes handsets with distributors and retail channel. GFK, on the other hand, tracks actual sales in 50,000-plus population cities.

“Obviously, this report on shipment is different and is completely divergent to what we are seeing in an earlier report,” said Mohammad Asim Warsi, Samsung India Electronics’ vice-president (IT & Mobile – Marketing).

“Samsung has a value market share of 35.8 per cent and a volume market share of 34.3 per cent. This shows that Samsung is twice as stronger in volume and stronger by at least four times in value terms than our nearest competitor,” he added, quoting the report by GFK.

Canalys, on the other hand, said Micromax has become the first domestic handset company to take the top spot in the Indian smartphone market, the third largest in the world.

“This is partly due to Micromax’s continuing appeal to mobile users upgrading to smartphones,” Canalys said in a release. Micromax’s flagship line of products — such as Canvas Nitro and Canvas Hue — “effectively” targeted the ₹9,000-12,000 price segment.

In the fourth quarter, 23 per cent of the total shipments in the country were priced below ₹6,000, while 41 per cent of devices were in the ₹6,000-12,000 bracket.

“Micromax has been quicker than its competitors to improve the appeal of devices; for example, it included a wide variety of local languages on its Unite phones. Lava, another domestic vendor, has launched devices that provide greater battery life — in this case a couple of days,” said Rushabh Doshi, analyst at Canalys. “But vital to success is selling these handsets at low price points to appeal to the bulging mid-level income market in India,” Doshi added.

Overall, the Indian market posted a strong annual growth of 90 per cent, with shipping of 21.6 million units in the quarter.

Karbonn and Lava, other local vendors, were in the third and fourth position during the quarter by the number of units shipped.