Samsung Electronics is regaining smartphone share in India with a revamped line-up packed with special features including a safety mode for motorcyclists, as rival Apple readies a renewed push into the world’s fastest-growing market.
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Though still squeezed by Apple in the premium segment and by Chinese rivals such as Huawei Technologies at the lower end, analysts say Samsung is righting itself by launching more attractive products and shaving production costs to compete better on price.
Samsung mid-level smartphones, especially the J series, have been doing quite well in emerging countries, especially in India. Such efforts, and better-than-anticipated sales for its flagship Galaxy S7 devices, are expected to lift Samsung’s earnings.
Since mid-2014, Samsung has been overhauling its product design, particularly in the mid-to-low tier segments, phasing out old and unpopular models and launching new devices including the A, E and J series.
The newer devices incorporate parts and features traditionally found only in high-end phones, such as metal frames and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens. As well as giving the phones a premium feel, that also enables Samsung to increase the number components common across its products, cutting costs and enabling more aggressive pricing, analysts said.
In addition to trying to secure permission to sell used, or refurbished, phones in India, Apple is betting its new 4-inch iPhone SE can help it gain new customers in the country. Despite the price gap, Apple’s emerging market-focused phone could pose a threat to Samsung, some analysts say, particularly if it wins approval to import refurbished iPhones.
My 2 cents:
The two most popular smartphones clash in India in pursuit of a decisive victory over the other but for very distinct reasons. Samsung is on a perceived upward trend in the high-end market, coming off a very successful campaign around the new S7, but pressured on the home front to fend off low-cost alternatives poaching their broad international markets. Apple is yet to prove the iPhone is plateauing so it has been resorting to entering new markets where re-editing their success story can bring additional revenues and quell negative voices and buys time to work on the proverbial “next iPhone.” India for its volumous and untapped potential has the added benefit of being cost-efficient. In a contest between affordability and prestige, India might find Samsung and Apple playing opposing roles than what the US market is accustomed to: here the S7 is the object of desire (hence the importance of product line variety) and the iPhone is the affordable alternative (hence Apple’s push for refurbished unit importation).