Samsung wrests back premium smartphone crown

RIGHT CALL: Huge response for Galaxy S10 series helps Korean company pip OnePlus in the Indian market

Latest News
Samsung wrests back premium smartphone crown


India’s premium mobile market is buzzing with action. The market, which opened up with the entry of a new Chinese player OnePlus, is now seeing heightened activity with Samsung coming out with all its might to capture its lost glory.

OnePlus has upped its market share in the Indian mobile handset market in the premium smartphones category in the last two years, while in the luxury segment Samsung has slowly and steadily increased its stronghold to reach a dominant position.

The data from Counterpoint Research shows Samsung is leading the charts for the premium segment (Rs 30,000-Rs 50,000), followed by OnePlus and Apple, although the share of Samsung has come down a bit in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same quarter a year ago. Even in the ultra-premium segment (above Rs 50,000), Samsung has a maximum market share followed by Apple. 

Samsung regained the top spot in India’s premium segment in Q1 2019, after losing out to OnePlus in the preceding three quarters. Initial uptake for the Galaxy S10 series drove Samsung to the leadership position in the premium segment, Counterpoint said.

However, data from another research firm CyberMedia shows OnePlus leads in the Rs 25,000-50,000 smartphone segment, whereas Samsung is not present in the top three. But, for ultra-premium segment i.e, over Rs 50,000, Samsung is the leader followed by Apple.

Both research firms have a common data point – Apple losing its market share in both premium and ultra-premium segments.

According to experts, the dominance of Chinese players has impacted the sales of Apple’s smartphones. It is struggling because of high pricing but still holds the aspirational value.

Prabhu Ram, head- industry intelligence group, Cyber Media Research, says Apple continues to hold an aspirational value for Indians, and it will be tough to dislodge it. “The Indian market is definitely seeing intensified competition from other brands, such as Samsung with its premium offerings, and other premium brands, including the likes of OnePlus, OPPO and Vivo. There is a clear opportunity for new entrants to make a dent in the premium segment with new competitive offerings and cutting-edge specs.” 

“Apple is still struggling to arrest its decline because of its excessive pricing. It is likely to start the mass production of iPhones in India, which will eventually help it save 20% import duty on its devices. If this saving is passed on to the buyers, Apple is likely to get a bump up in terms of volumes as it remains the most aspirational brand in India, CounterPoint Research analyst Karn Chauhan said.

Faisal Kawoosa, founder, TechArc, a consultancy firm, says Apple is a different breed and none of these (Chinese mainly) players, except Samsung and Google Pixel, compete with it.  

“OnePlus has created a new market segment and is now attracted other brands like Vivo and OPPO to foray in this segment. The issue with Apple is that its price points are not for the majority of the Indian market.  But, it’s a brand which has been tightly focusing on profitability and has been able to retain the same. The existing iPhone users are not upgrading to the latest iPhone, rather they are switching to cheaper options like OnePlus and now OPPO and Vivo as well.” 

OnePlus, which entered the Indian market a few years back, has enjoyed immense success as users lapped up its phones. However, it may see some tough time from other Chinese players and Samsung as well.

“OnePlus has had very strong growth in India, as it created and defined a new ‘premium’ niche for itself. It has been nimble and has consistently offered the latest technological specs, backed by aggressive pricing and clear communication with its fan base. Going forward, it will need to be wary of challenges from brands, such as Vivo, OPPO and even, Realme,” Ram said.

In mid-May, OnePlus had announced the launch of its one of the two new phones, including One Plus Pro, with which it is eyeing the ultra-premium segment as well in India. On Tuesday, Oppo, another Chinese player, launched its Reno series targeted at the premium segment. Samsung, however, is undisputedly a strong brand in the premium segment with high consumer recall backed by strong technological innovation showcase and a regular pipeline of premium smartphone launches, experts add.

With Indian mobile users getting hooked onto 4G services, the competition in the premium smartphone segment is set to intensify further. India’s premium segment is expected to grow 30% this year due to rising incomes and increasing competition in the market.

Find your daily dose of news & explainers in your WhatsApp. Stay updated, Stay informed-  Follow DNA on WhatsApp.

Live tv