Samsung maintained its leadership in India’s smartphone market, while Xiaomi quickly improved its performance to consolidate its position as India’s second-biggest smartphone in the January-March quarter, narrowing the gap with the South Korean handset player, research agencies said on Friday. China’s iTel brand climbed up to the number two position in overall handset market for the first time with 9% share, pipping Micromax (8%). iTel shipped 5.2 million handsets (largely feature phones) in the quarter. “iTel leveraged its successful low-cost strategy, effective distribution and scale,” Counterpoint Research said. In addition, selfie-focused smartphone category, mainly driven by Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Lenovo and Gionee, grew annually by a factor of nine in first quarter. Xiaomi, for the first time, jumped to the number two spot with 13% market share, per data by Counterpoint Research. The handset maker, as per Canalys data, enhanced its market share by 3 percentage points sequentially to 14% in the January-March quarter. Samsung’s share remained unchanged at 22% sequentially, although shipments fell to 6 million in the quarter from 6.2 million a year earlier, Canalys said. It had 26% share in both smartphone and overall handset segments, as per Counterpoint. Xiaomi’s success in India is underscored by its online go-to-market strategy. “Demonetisation seems to have had no impact on it as its target customer is young, internet-enabled and primarily buys online,” Canalys research analyst Ishan Dutt said in the note dated April 27. Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo (includes Motorola) made up the rest of the top five, as per both agencies, albeit not in the same order. Both the agencies noted that the Indian handset market is now witnessing a focus shift in distribution strategy by major brands. Offline brands like OPPO, Vivo and Gionee have now started focusing on online channels as well to gain extra market share, while online only brands like Xiaomi and Motorola are moving fast into offline markets to widen their reach to the mass market. “We will see a change in vendors’ channel strategies as new distribution models become more cost-effective. Pure online players are likely to suffer and those that react quickly to the new regulations will benefit,” Canalys research analyst Ishan Dutt said in the note dated April 27.