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With iPhone X & Galaxy Note 8, Apple & Samsung to battle for 'premium' tag

Bringing more users into its fold has been a challenge for Apple due to the lack of affordable models in India.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 14, 2017, 06.42 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: Apple and Samsung Electronics are set for their toughest market-share battle in India with the launch of their latest flagship devices — iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8. Experts anticipate that Apple, which had a 30% share of the premium market in June, will strive to narrow the gap with Samsung’s 55% in the October-December quarter by targeting its loyal users with two variants of the iPhone X, priced at Rs 89,000 and Rs 1.02 lakh apiece.

Apple cut prices of existing models by as much as 15% to poach users from its rival and may offer deals on the new and relatively lower-priced iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus to expand its overall market share in India, which has stagnated at 2-3% for many quarters for the lack of affordable devices in its portfolio. The premium segment — devices costing more than Rs 30,000 —contributes to 15% of the smartphone market by value.

“The competition is going to be neck-and-neck this time… whoever leads will only have an edge of 2-3%,” said Faisal Kawoosa, a senior analyst at CyberMedia Research.

“It is going to be extremely competitive as both will put their marketing might behind their flagships,” said Tarun Pathak, senior analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research. Apple will start selling the iPhone 8 series on September 29, while the iPhone X will be available from November 3, about two weeks after Diwali, when festive season sales typically peak.

With iPhone X & Galaxy Note 8, Apple & Samsung to battle for 'premium' tag
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

The South Korean smartphone market leader will begin sales of the Galaxy Note 8, priced at a competitive Rs 67,900, from September 21 and will go all out to convert more mid-premium segment smartphone users.

“We’ve had more than 250,000 people expressing interest in the buying the Note 8, which has been the highest ever for the Note series,” said Asim Warsi, senior vice president-mobile business at Samsung India, declining to comment on the competition from Apple. “The Note series stands on its own and does not hinge on other devices in our portfolio or competition.”

The Galaxy S8 model’s price dropped Rs 5,000 last month. Apple, seeking to convert Android users, reduced prices of all variants of its earlier flagships — iPhone 6s, iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus — except the iPhone SE, on Wednesday.

The new iPhones will be available online through Flipkart and Infibeam and through retail stores.

Bringing more users into its fold has been a challenge for Apple largely due to the lack of affordable models in India, where Android dominates with more than 85% of the market.

Samsung has a presence across price segments, primarily the low-cost and the mid-premium devices, which make up the bulk of the market.

“Apple’s earlier flagships too will have a major say in volumes and it is likely that it will cross its highest market share in India this time… but Samsung will be the real challenger,” Pathak said. The iPhone X will have the highest aspirational value among other iPhones, making it all the more desirable, said IDC India’s Navkendar Singh.

With iPhone X & Galaxy Note 8, Apple & Samsung to battle for 'premium' tag
iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X. (Image: AFP)

He cautioned that one of the headwinds for Apple could be supply issues for the iPhone X. While that may help to create excess demand in the short term, Apple would need to ensure enough units are available in the long term.

“Also, due to high pricing for iPhone X, many consumers wanting to upgrade from their current 6, 6s and 7 might find the jump to iPhone X prohibitive and hence many willing buyers may settle for the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, which will also feed into volumes for Apple,” Singh added.

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