By Sandeep Joshi


Premium smartphone-maker — Apple — which accounted for 22% market share in the premium segment during July-September quarter of 2019, has been aggressively focusing on marketing strategies and partnerships to grow its share in the premium segment,says latest report of Counterpoint Research.

“Apple iPhone shipments in the premium segment grew with an impressive 45% y-o-y. It recorded growth for the last two quarters following a series of quarters with negative growth, since Q4 2017. Apple’s comeback is largely due to the iPhone XR which captured the half of Apple’s premium shipments in Q3 2019. Price cuts and strong promotions (cash back and EMI) on iPhones helped Apple to perform strongly in the market,” Counterpoint explained.

Price cuts coupled with an aggressive promotion drive featuring cashbacks and EMIs on the iPhone XR helped Apple make a strong comeback in the Indian smartphone market in the past six months as well as aided it in fortifying its position in the premium handset segment (Rs 30,000 and above) where it faces stiff competition from Samsung and OnePlus.

iPhone XR was the second best-selling premium smartphone during the quarter. Due to the China-US trade war, Apple is considering India as an alternative manufacturing location and is making efforts to grow through partnerships and investments. This will help Apple in the long run, it added. Apple’s closest rival, Samsung, too, upped its performance in the premium category during Q3 2019 aided by brisk sales of the Galaxy Note 10.

“Samsung was the second-largest brand in premium segment during the quarter (Q3 2019). Price cuts on older flagships and launch of the Galaxy Note 10 series, helped Samsung to grow 34% annually. Almost half of the Indian ultra-premium segment (Rs 45,000 and above) shipments captured by Samsung were driven by the Galaxy Note 10 series. The initial strong sales uptick of the Note 10 series can be attributed to its multiple variants, giving more choice to the Note series loyalists,” the market research agency said.

Overall, India’s smartphone shipments in premium segment grew an impressive 66% y-o-y to reach an all-time record high in Q3 2019. The growth was driven by new launches, aggressive offers and channel push, ahead of the crucial festive season. Offers on premium smartphone started well ahead of the festive season – many in the last week of September. Offers included payment plans (EMI), cashback and exchange offers.

Among brands, OnePlus (with 35% market share) led the premium market segment followed by Samsung (23%) and Apple (22%). OnePlus remained the fastest-growing brand, driven by strong performances of 7 and 7T series. Samsung shipments were helped by the new Galaxy Note 10 series, while the price cut for iPhone XR drove Apple’s shipments. More than 20 flagship phone variants launched in Q3 2019, the highest ever in a single quarter.

India’s premium segment is seeing strong growth, but it is still at a nascent stage, contributing just 5% of the market by volume. During Q3 2019, a record 49 million smartphones were shipped. This is still low when compared to markets like USA and China, where the premium segment accounts for 50% and 22% respectively, Counterpoint Research said.

Brands are now increasingly focused on the premium segment to drive both their share and profitability.
Additionally, In a price-sensitive market like India, the growth of premium market will depend a lot on how OEMs will strike partnerships to reduce the upfront cost of the devices. EMI have been the preferred method so far.

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