Sam­sung Loses Top Spot to Ap­ple; OnePlus at No. 2

Co slips to No.3 po­si­tion for the first time as competition hots up in the pre­mium space

The Economic Times - - Com­pa­nies: Pur­suit Of Profit - Gul­veen.Au­lakh@ times­

New Delhi: Af­ter rapidly los­ing ground to Xiaomi in the over­all smart­phone rank­ings, mar­ket leader Sam­sung has lost not just its top spot in the pre­mium seg­ment to Ap­ple in the July-Septem­ber pe­riod, but has been rel­e­gated — for the first time ever — to No. 3, be­hind OnePlus in a seg­ment that is see­ing competition like never be­fore. The South Korean phone maker, how­ever, dis­puted the find­ings of Coun­ter­point Re­search and said it con­tin­ued to lead the seg­ment by end-sales.

The fight for the top spot in the high-end seg­ment — ₹ 30,000 and above — is set to heat up fur­ther in Novem­ber with play­ers like Google, Xiaomi and Nokia in the fray, mak­ing life for Ap­ple and Sam­sung — who have his­tor­i­cally dom­i­nated this seg­ment — far tougher. Sec­tor watch­ers ex­pect these brands to of­fer dis­counts or bun­dled of­fers in this seg­ment to get buy­ers amid the height­ened competition. Ap­ple, for ex­am­ple, is be­lieved to be ty­ing up with Air­tel to sell its su­per pre­mium prod­uct on the telco's re­cently launched online store. “Sam­sung’s share dropped to 31% from 55% in the previous quar­ter as pre­mium seg­ment (above ₹ 30,000) was driven more by ₹ 30,000-40,000 band due to OnePlus and older iPhone mod­els, due to which ma­jor­ity of the vol­ume of the seg­ment was skewed to­wards ₹ 30,000-40,000 sub­seg­ment where Sam­sung is not that strong,” said Tarun Pathak, se­nior an­a­lyst at Coun­ter­point Re­search.

Ap­ple led with 35% share in July-Septem­ber, on the back of iPhone 8 launch, and price cuts on ear­lier mod­els right af­ter GST. OnePlus fol­lowed Ap­ple with 32% backed by sales of OnePlus 5, as per data from the Hong-Kong based firm.

“Sam­sung is go­ing to find it tough to get back in terms of vol­umes, as the price gap be­tween its flag­ships and those of com­peti­tors like Xiaomi and OnePlus, is quite large in pre­mium seg­ment,” Pathak added. Some an­a­lysts said Sam­sung may cut prices or bring out some of­fers on the Note 8 to claw back share. Sam­sung dis­puted the agency data while say­ing the share of phones sold in the mar­ket was high­est amongst competition. The com­pany’s mar­ket share by vol­ume was 65.2% and 65.4% by value, in the above ₹ 30,000 seg­ment, Sam­sung India se­nior vice-pres­i­dent for mo­bile busi­ness Asim Warsi said, cit­ing data from Ger­man re­search firm GfK, which tracks sales to end con­sumers.

An­a­lysts added that vol­ume of ship­ments in the pre­mium seg­ment is ex­pected to be higher than usual for the cur­rent Oc­to­ber-De­cem­ber quar­ter, while competition will be higher than ever be­fore.

Re­tail sales of Ap­ple’s high­est priced iPhone X — from ₹ 89,000 to ₹ 1lakh — be­gins on Novem­ber 3, while Google’s Pixel 2 se­ries, priced be­tween ₹ 61,000 and ₹ 82,000, be­gins sell­ing from Novem­ber 15.

The en­try of Xiaomi, which sold over 4 mil­lion phones in a month, into the pre­mium seg­ment with Mi Mix 2 priced around ₹ 36,000 and grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity of Nokia 8 launched in Septem­ber at around ₹ 37,000 will also add to the mix of op­tions that con­sumers will have be­sides Sam­sung’s Galaxy Note 8 and OnePlus that has OnePlus 5 priced around ₹ 33,000, in the mar­ket since June.

“There will be in­creased competition in the pre­mium seg­ment, with a much larger num­ber of play­ers than typ­i­cal Ap­ple-Sam­sung, with Xiaomi, Google and oth­ers com­ing in,” said Jaipal Singh, se­nior an­a­lyst at IDC India. He added that the ship­ments in Novem­ber are likely to be sig­nif­i­cantly higher from same pe­riod last year. Usu­ally ship­ments, in­clud­ing in this seg­ment, see a dip im­me­di­ately af­ter Di­wali.

An­a­lysts add that while Xiaomi and Google can make a dent in the seg­ment, as both have de­vices priced at lower than competition, Ap­ple will want to keep its lead in the present quar­ter with the iPhone X, which has seen strong de­mand. Ap­ple though is fac­ing huge sup­ply is­sues for the su­per-pre­mium de­vice.

Some an­a­lysts say Sam­sung may cut prices or bring out some of­fers on the Note 8 to claw back share

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