Samsung is trying to regain ground lost to Chinese brands Xiaomi, OnePlus

Topics Samsung | OnePlus

Korean electronics major Samsung is facing pressure at the top as well as the bottom end of the smartphone market.

In the last quarter of 2018, OnePlus displaced Samsung as the largest selling smartphone brand in the premium category (over Rs 30,000 price segment), while Xiaomi continued to maintain a lead in terms of overall market share since Q4 2017, according to Counterpoint Research data. Reliance Jio’s 4G feature phone did the same in the feature phone category.

While Samsung holds strong in the mid-range category, it is trying to regain ground lost to Chinese brands Xiaomi and OnePlus.

“We are planning new launches, at least one every month between March and June,” said Ranjiv Singh, senior vice-president and chief marketing officer at Samsung India.

India is one of the one biggest and fastest-growing smartphone markets in the world, which has made the country an ideal battleground for global brands. 

Xiaomi, a Chinese upstart, has all but taken over the budget segment with high-power smartphones starting as cheap as Rs 6,000, de-seating even Indian brands like Karbonn and Micromax. On the other hand, a glut of choices to a price-conscious smartphone audience has made the market extremely competitive in the country.

The new models will be launched under Samsung’s Galaxy A series — in continuation of A6, A7 and A9 range from 2018 — and will be targeted at a userbase of 18-24 year olds, the company said.

“There will be models priced from Rs 10,000 to all the way up to Rs 50,000,” said Singh. He declined to reveal the number of models in the pipeline or tech specifications, but said the company was projecting revenue of $4 billion (around Rs 28,400 crore) from the Galaxy A series line in the current year.

Samsung India’s sales in 2017-18, which also includes revenue from consumer electronics and other product lines, were Rs 61,065 crore. However, with pressure from competition in smartphones, its largest category, net profits dipped over 10 per cent to Rs 3,712 crore. Overall market share in India also dropped four percentage points to 22 per cent through 2018.

“Samsung is not very popular among the young, and they probably want to change that. There is also a focus on getting more budget handsets in the market,” said Harish Bhatia, a senior analyst for devices and ecosystem, at Counterpoint Research.

Last month, Samsung launched M10 and M20, two budget smartphones priced at Rs 7,990 and Rs 12,990, respectively. A new M30 model priced around Rs 15,000 is also in the offing, according to recent reports. On the premium side, the successor to its flagship S9 may be launched in the next few months in three variants — S10, S10e and S10+.

Singh said sales of the M series, launched online through a partnership with Amazon, surpassed expectations. Going forward, Samsung models will also be sold on Flipkart, along with Amazon and at retails and franchise stores.

Samsung operates a network of 2,000 branded stores and has presence at about 180,000 multi-brand retailers, according to the company.

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