Gadgets Technology

India’s No. 1 premium smartphone brand title snatched from Samsung, Apple by Chinese company

India has become an important market for smartphone companies as they continue to launch new models to lure buyers. Here’s how the brands are doing in the premium segment.

People have always linked premium smartphones to brands like Samsung and Apple, but a relatively new player has its name all over the category in India. OnePlus, a four-year-old smartphone brand, needs no introduction as it has managed to sell millions of smartphones and India remains one of its strongest markets.

Now, a new market analysis by Counterpoint Research has revealed that OnePlus surpasses Samsung and Apple with record shipments in the second quarter this year (April-June) in the premium smartphone category (Rs 30,000 and above). While OnePlus has been going back and forth, this is the first time the Chinese brand has managed to beat its rivals throughout a full quarter.

According to the report, OnePlus captured over 40 percent market share in the premium segment in Q2 2018, a stark improvement compared to 9 percent in the same quarter a year ago. This dominance pushed Samsung to the second spot with 35 percent share, down from 50 percent share in the first quarter of 2018.

But Samsung wasn’t the only one to lose its market share in the second quarter this year. Apple ranked third during Q2 2018, as it only acquired a measly 14 percent in the premium segment. The sharp decline is linked to the weak demand for iPhone 8 and iPhone x among other challenges such as streamlining its channel structure in India and lack of pricing competition due to increase in import duty.

Apple is likely to bounce back later this year with a stronger sales strategy, new product launches and compliance to the Make in India initiative. But it falls far behind OnePlus in terms of premium smartphone market share and it remains to be seen how effectively the iPhone-maker bridges the gap.

As for OnePlus, the Chinese smartphone maker was also the fastest growing brand in the premium segment with a staggering 446 percent. The company has been ramping up its efforts to be easily accessible to Indian consumers. After initially being an online-only brand, OnePlus now has offline retail partners such as Croma and exclusive experience stores in major cities to offer its customers a feel of its phones.

OnePlus’ latest smartphone, the OnePlus 6, contributed significantly towards the company’s success in India. OnePlus 6 was the best-selling smartphone in the premium segment with 30 percent share while Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus came at a distant second position with 12 percent share. At the third spot was another OnePlus smartphone, the OnePlus 5T, which was discontinued after the OnePlus 6 hit the market.

“This is a new trend where “affordable ultra-premium” is wooing aspiring rich and young consumers away from more expensive offerings from likes of Samsung and Apple. With likes of OPPO, Huawei, Vivo and Google looking to be aggressive in INR 40,000-60,000 segment in coming quarters, pressure on likes of Apple and Samsung will be even higher,” CounterPoint’s Tarun Pathak said in a statement.

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