India’s home-grown handset brand Micromax has entered the top three brands league in Russia, for the first time ever, according to Counterpoint Research.

Micromax, which expanded its operations in Eastern Europe a couple of years ago, is now reaping the benefits of distribution and marketing as it captured the third spot for the first time ever with 9 per cent market share, it said.

According to the latest research from Counterpoint’s Market Monitor program, in Q4 2015 (Oct-Dec), Russia’s mobile phone market grew by 8% annually. The growth in the market resulted in significant shifts in the competitive environment during the quarter, it said.

“Russia has over the years been a key market for mobile phone manufacturers, having a halo effect for the performing brands in other countries within the region. While, the Russian economy shrank 3.7%, a sharp dip since the global crisis in 2009 and as the Ruble weakened, but the overall mobile phone demand was surprisingly good, up by 8% YoY. This uptick was driven by a rise in cheaper feature phone demand during the quarter; the smartphone market was flat compared to last year. This is an interesting reverse trend which signals the demand for better and more affordable mobile devices, filling the demand gap,” Peter Richardson, Research Director at Counterpoint research said.

“The rise in demand for affordable phones has been a blessing in disguise for Asian brands as Alcatel One Touch climbed to the number one spot, capturing 12% market share and growing 60% annually. The largest domestic brand in India, Micromax, also moved up the rankings to capture the third spot in Russia for the first time ever, growing more than 350% annually. This is an exciting time for challenger brands such as Micromax and Alcatel OneTouch to strengthen their brands in newer markets, moving up the global rankings,” Tarun Pathak Sr. Analyst at Counterpoint Research said.

The research firm also said Apple saw demand for its iPhone slow due to the weakening economy and stronger Ruble, making it quite an expensive offering. However, the Cupertino vendor still maintained its position in the top five smartphone brands in Russia in Q4 2015.