Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyze various critical success factors (CSFs) that can facilitate smartphone manufacturing in India. This paper further aims to understand the mutual interactions among these CSFs through identification of the hierarchical relationships among them. Design/methodology/approach – A framework for a smartphone manufacturing system has been developed, wherein the hierarchical inter-relationships between identified CSFs have been presented and interpreted using total interpretive structural modeling (TISM). Cross-impact matrix multiplication applied to classification analysis has been further employed to identify the driving power as well as dependence power of these CSFs. Findings – In the present research, 15 CSFs have been identified through literature review and expert opinions. The hierarchical framework developed using TISM has revealed the inter-dependencies among these CSFs. This research further categorizes CSFs into three clusters. The first cluster comprises of CSFs having high dependence power, the second cluster identifies CSFs having high driving power and the third cluster identifies CSFs which act as linkages between the driver CSFs and dependent CSFs. Research limitations/implications – This study has implications for both practitioners and academia. It provides a comprehensive list of CSFs that are relevant to develop a smartphone ecosystem in India. In addition, this study will help decision makers to strategically focus on the main drivers of the ecosystem that requires the immediate attention of decision makers. The methodology employed in this study provides a mechanism to conduct an exploratory study by identifying the factors and analyzing their interactions through the development of a hierarchical framework. Originality/value – The proposed framework developed through qualitative modeling is an effort to understand relevant factors that can promote the smartphone manufacturing ecosystem. This study makes a significant contribution in the literature of smartphone manufacturing, which captures the perspective of different stakeholders. © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.