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Samsung vs Apple: The musical chair continues

Analysts point to a pattern with Samsung gaining leadership position in the prime segment during Feb-Aug every year. Apple overtakes Sept onwards

Arnab Dutta  |  New Delhi 

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The fight for supremacy in the premium smartphone segment between Samsung and Apple continues to create ripples in the Indian market. During the past two years, the war has attracted enough attention and evoked excitement among technology devices freaks in the country. In the latest round of the fight, Samsung has again proved its lead over Apple.

According to latest data, between January and April 2016, Samsung’s market share in the above-Rs 30,000 price segment rose to 46 per cent compared to 42 per cent of Apple’s. The stark contrast and changing of leadership position on a regular basis can be traced to the fact that during the four months preceding the period mentioned above, Apple used to hold similar market share and be chased by Samsung. During September-December 2015, Apple’s market share in the premium segment was nearly 48 per cent.

While increasing promotion and distribution focus is usually attributed to such periodic changes in leadership positions in the fast-growing domestic market, analysts point out that there is a pattern in these changes.

According to Neil Shah, director at Counterpoint Research, Samsung gains the leadership position in the segment during February and August every year. Apple, on the other hand, overtakes the Korean major September onwards, when its flagship launches take place and creates much hype and enthusiasm among aspirants. For the past two years, the trend is visible, Shah says.

Premium smartphones currently forms 3.4 per cent of the 103 million units-a-year domestic market.

Its last two flagship launches — iPhone 6 & 6 Plus and iPhone 6S & 6S Plus — entered Indian market in October 2014 and October 2015, respectively.

“A new launch from Apple increases the sale of its previous models as well. People who aspire to own an iPhone but cannot afford usually go for older models such as iPhone 5S and iPhone 4,” said Faisal Kawoosa of CyberMedia Research.

Samsung, on the other hand, usually comes up with its flagship devices in the March-June period. This year, it launched its Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge in March, which helped it gain significant market share and sale of S6 Plus & S6 Edge Plus, the previous two flagship models, surged. “This gave a clear advantage to Samsung,” said an industry analyst.

As a tactic, this year, Samsung kept its flagship models lower than its previous launches, although the handsets are superior in terms of features and hardware. It also enjoys the advantage of being in the market for over a decade and being a market leader in the industry. “The company has 150,000 selling points to showcase and sell its products. This is a clear advantage as people who come to buy home appliances to these outlets are also prospective buyers who can be targeted easily,” said an industry executive.

“Now, it remains to be seen how long can they hold on to their position. And, whether the pattern that has emerged in the past two years changes in 2016,” said the analyst cited above.

  • Samsung beats Apple in Jan-Apr 2016 with 46 per cent market share in the above-Rs 30,000 smartphone segment
  • Apple was holding the top slot in Oct-Dec 2015 with 48 per cent market share
  • The rivals switch positions — Samsung holds the top slot during Feb-Aug 2015, Apple overtakes it September onwards
  • Launch of new models by Samsung (S7 & S7 Edge) in March helped the company this time; Apple gained leadership thanks to new launches like6S and 6S Plus last year
  • The premium smartphones segment now forms 3.4 per cent of the total of 103 million a year domestic smartphones market

First Published: Sat, April 30 2016. 22:30 IST