In the last few years, Samsung has faced tough competition from Xiaomi in the budget and mid-range price segments and from OnePlus in the premium segment. Xiaomi overtook Samsung last year to become the largest smartphone vendor in India by volume. Xiaomi then held on to its number one position in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018. The competition heated up in Q2 2018 as Samsung either caught up with Xiaomi (according to Canalys), or overtook Xiaomi to regain first place (according to Counterpoint Research), or failed to match Xiaomi’s sales and remained in second place (according to IDC).
Despite the conflicting statistics, one thing is clear: Samsung is facing competition on a scale never seen before. In the budget and mid-range segments, the company’s phones aren’t competitive in terms of specifications against phones made by Xiaomi, Asus, Realme, and Honor. In the premium segment, OnePlus overtook Samsung for the first time ever in a full quarter to take the lead in India’s premium smartphone market, according to Counterpoint.
Samsung is well aware of the competitive situation and has already released quite a few mid-range smartphones in India so far. The problem is that the pace of incremental improvement isn’t enough to compete with rivals that simply provide better specifications at lower prices. We have written about this multiple times before, and it’s apparent that Samsung needs to adopt a better strategy. This is what the company now plans on doing.
At the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Indian launch event on Wednesday, DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT and Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics stated that the company is once again refreshing its mid-range segment phones with “flagship premium features” for the upcoming festive quarter (Q4 2018 – October-December). According to Mr. Koh, the Indian market will see launches that will alter the course of the mid-range smartphone market, which is currently dominated by Chinese vendors. He admitted that the competition has “got tough [with] harsh terrain,” and that the company is struggling in some areas.
Mr. Koh stated at a media round-table after launching the Galaxy Note 9 in India: “Since February this year, I have changed my strategy for the Indian market as the competition got tough and terrain harsh. We dominated in some areas while struggle in some during the course. “You will now see devices coming from us in the mid-segment space with flagship features and functionalities that will delight our customers in India.”
He also stated that Samsung is going to offer a wide-range of smart devices for Indian loyal users. I am building a complete ecosystem of smart devices for the millennials in India. We are not concerned about the sales numbers but focus on creating a trust bond with our customers and partners in the country where we are the leader for years,” Mr. Koh said.
Despite the rise in competition, Samsung is doing well in India. A CyberMedia Research report stated last week that one in two premium smartphones shipped in the first half of 2018 was a Samsung device. The company also reportedly dominated the premium smartphone segment in India in the first half of 2018 with 48% market share, followed by OnePlus (25%) and Apple (22%) respectively.
Asim Warsi, Senior Vice President of Mobile Business at Samsung India stated that Samsung has more to offer across the segment than any other vendor, as the company is a “full-range player” and offers a “complete range” of devices. He predicted that this momentum would continue in the Indian market for the rest of 2018.
The refreshed Samsung Galaxy J series is doing particularly well in India. Samsung sold over two million units of the recently launched Galaxy J8 and Galaxy J6 phones in India, attracting nearly 50,000 customers daily.