“Given the disturbance in the supply chain and stalled manufacturing, Chinese brands are not able to distribute products in the market even if demand persists. Samsung, on the other hand, has a more diversified supply of parts from Korea and China,” said Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research. “It (Samsung) could possibly become number two this (April-June) quarter”.
Xiaomi, Vivo, and Samsung held 30%, 17%, and 16% market share respectively in the January-March period, as per data from Counterpoint.
Trying to tap into the situation, Samsung has launched four handsets within 10 days this month in the Rs 10,000- Rs 20,000 segment, which is seeing most of demand. “Even a lot of Samsung models that were nearing the end of life are being bought by customers,” a retailer said.
Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research said, while some users are moving away from Chinese handset players and towards Samsung, the Korean player needs to crack the online market to have sustainable growth.
“While Chinese players have 81% share in the overall smartphone market, their online share was even higher at 85% in Q1. And, that’s where people are buying more. So, Samsung needs to aggressively focus on online,” Pathak said.
Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group, CyberMedia Research said that the current market conditions are fluid and open up new opportunities for non-Chinese smartphone brands like Samsung to focus and leverage.
“Affordability will continue to be a major theme this year and brands will need to dovetail their offerings accordingly brands such as Samsung and Nokia, enjoy a strong brand connect with consumers in India, and potentially stand a chance to gain market share,” Ram added.
Navkender Singh, director at IDC India, however, was more cautious about Samsung’s prospects, saying whatever lead Samsung manages to gain by default in the coming three months will be more due to the manufacturing crunch that Chinese companies are facing and not because of consumer backlash. “Consumers will continue to buy Chinese smartphones if they suit their needs at affordable price points”.
Samsung shut its manufacturing facilities in China last year as the brand’s share fell below 1% in the Chinese market but has retained partnerships with some ODMs (original design manufacturers).
Additionally, the government last week granted automatic approval to Samsung’s consignments, whereas Chinese brands are facing 100% manual checks, which has stalled or delayed their clearances. Even, Xiaomi’s contract manufacturer Foxconn is facing the heat of government’s retaliation to Indo-China clashes at the line of actual control (LAC).
“In the midst of the current market dynamics, besides Samsung loyalists, other consumers seeking to buy affordable phones would consider the brand. There is potential for a negative bias to impact consumer purchase decisions,” Ram said.