News in Numbers, Jan 3, 2017: Wéi!

51%

What is it? The market share of Chinese phone companies in the smartphone segment in November, according to analysts.

Why is it important? For the first time ever, Chinese brands hold a dominant position in the smartphone segment in India at the cost of the market share held by Indian companies and the bigger players such as Samsung and Apple. The share of Indian brands fell from a peak of over 40% recorded earlier in 2016 to 18% in October and November whereas that of Samsung and Apple fell by 3% month-on-month to land at 32% in November. Interestingly, Indian and Chinese players had an equal share (34% each) as of September.

Tell me more: As many as 32.3 million smartphones were shipped in the July-September quarter of 2016, continuing to clock double-digit growth, according to research firm International Data Corporation. Chinese players including Lenovo, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are looking to gain a stronghold in India following the saturation in Chinese mobile phone market.

 

5-20%

What is it? The service charges levied by hotels and restaurants, in lieu of tips.

Why is it important? The Department of Consumer Affairs issued a notification on Monday clarifying that it is not mandatory for the customers to pay the service charge that is added to the bills. This comes after customers complaining that they are forced to pay the service charge irrespective of the kind of service they are offered. This is likely to force hotels/restaurants to provide better services and/or increase the prices of the items on their menu cards.

Tell me more: After seeking a clarification from the Hotel Association of India, the Department of Consumer Affairs has asked the state governments to make hotels and restaurants aware of this rule and also direct hotels to put up notices to inform their customers that the payment of service charge is discretionary.

 

4.9%

What is it? The growth rate of India’s eight infrastructure sectors – coal, crude oil, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity – in November on a year-on-year basis.

Why is it important? Though it is higher than 0.6% recorded in November 2015, it is slower than the rates registered in September and October 2016 – 5% and 6.6% respectively. The slowdown is likely due to the currency reset move by the government in November, which also led to Nikkei’s Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a composite indicator of the country’s manufacturing activity based on a survey, to decline to 49.6 in December (from 52.3 in November) – the biggest month-on-month decline since November 2008 and the first contraction (below the 50-mark) in this year.

Tell me more: Among the eight core sectors, coal production, petroleum refinery production, fertiliser production, steel production, cement production and electricity generation registered increases in November compared to a year ago while crude oil and natural gas recorded decreases during the same period.

 

> 12,000 km

What is it? The distance China’s first freight train to London, which was flagged off on Sunday.

Why is it important? The train, which will reach London in about 18 days, is part of China’s efforts to strengthen its ties with Britain, better serve its Belt and Road Initiative and boost its weak exports and economic growth, which was the slowest in 25 years in 2015. At the end of June 2016, there were 1,881 China-Europe cargo trains in service, which imported and exported goods worth $17 billion. An estimated 5,000 cargo trains will run between China and Europe per year by 2020, according to the former’s top economic planning body.

Tell me more: China’s freight train to London, which primarily carried household items, garments, cloth, bags and suitcases, would pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.

 

< 3 cents

What is it? Solar energy prices per kilowatt-hour in countries such as Chile and the United Arab Emirates in 2016.

Why is it important? This is about half the average global cost of coal power and could become the cheapest source of power by 2025, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Prices of solar, which is greener than burning fossil fuels, have fallen by 62% since 2009 mainly due to increase in volumes and lower margins. In India too, solar power tariff fell to a record low of Rs 3 per unit in November 2016, which was as high as Rs 12 per unit six years ago.

Tell me more: India is looking to achieve its target of 100 gigawatts of solar capacity generation by the end of 2017 itself, much ahead of its original deadline of 2022. The country’s solar power generation crossed 19,000 megawatts in 2015-16.

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