Samsung forges India comeback in the smartphone market as anti-China wave grows
Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is crafting a comeback in India’s smartphone market with a new range of budget devices and a ramped-up online presence, aiming to recoup ground ceded to Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi Corp.
Samsung is the only major non-Chinese player in the country. It has already begun to gain ground, and a surge in anti-China sentiment in India following a border clash in June is expected to provide a fresh boost.
With 26% market share Samsung jumped to the No. 2 spot in the second quarter behind Xiaomi’s 29%, according to tech researcher Counterpoint, as the South Korean company’s diverse and in house supply chain helped it avoid product delays suffered by rivals during lockdown due to pandemic. With a 16% share, it was in the third position in the previous quarter.
Samsung was once the unrivalled leader in India, the world’s second-biggest smartphone market. But it has lost Indian customers to Chinese brands over the past three years, whose devices are perceived as better value.
But the country still accounts for some $7.5 billion in annual retail smartphone revenues for Samsung, according to Counterpoint, making it the company’s biggest market outside the United States.
The world’s largest mobile phone manufacturing plant was built by the mobile manufacturer on the outskirts of New Delhi, where it tests new devices and often assembles them for export.
That manufacturing power, and Samsung’s ability to source many components internally, is helping it gain ground amid the pandemic. Chinese smartphone brands Xiaomi and Oppo suffered local production hiccups and product delays due to COVID-19, but Samsung was able to keep delivering phones smoothly.
Now the company is growing on the momentum. It has launched seven new smartphones since June out of which three are under 10,000 rupees ($133.63) including its cheapest Android offering at $75.
Samsung has partnered with Facebook in May to train some 200,000 brick and mortar stores selling its phones to use social media for sales and marketing. Instalment-payment plans for customers and new incentive schemes is also launched, including one that gives student discounts on select devices.