Smaller rivals may gain in India at Huawei’s cost

Huawei’s expected troubles due to US sanctions could open a window of opportunity for rival debutants Realme and Oppo to get a toehold in India’s premium smartphone market, analysts said.

Oppo is making a second attempt at cracking the premium smartphone segment — those costing over Rs 30,000 — with the launch of its new premium series Reno. Realme will enter the space towards the latter part of the year.

Market experts say Huawei may be forced to pull out devices with Android readying to snap ties with the Chinese smartphone maker. Oppo and Realme could well exploit the gap and growing competition in the segment dominated by Samsung, OnePlus and Apple so far. The premium smartphone segment itself is expected to almost double by Decemberend to 10% of the overall market, said Counterpoint Research.

“The absence of Huawei, one of the fastest growing premium segment players, will surely give competitors some relief,” Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research, said.

Madhav Sheth, chief executive officer at Realme India, confirmed the brand’s plan to enter the premium segment and said “There’s huge scope in every segment, including the premium segment. We want to be present in this segment… before the year-end, our premium product will be launched.”

Both Oppo and Realme – which are in the top five in the overall Indian smartphone market — are owned by BBK Electronics, which also owns Vivo and One-Plus. OnePlus was the second largest premium brand in the Jan-March quarter after leading the segment from April-Dec 2018. Korea’s Samsung reclaimed leadership in the premium segment in the Jan-March quarter, as per Counterpoint and IDC.

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Oppo, which will launch Reno and Reno 10X Zoom Edition phones later this month, had first entered the premium segment last year with the launch of Find X, followed by R17 Pro. In India, these phones didn’t see success but Oppo emerged the fastest growing smartphone brand in the premium segment globally with 863% growth, according to the Counterpoint Research report released in April 2019.


Realme’s Sheth said that the company will have a full handset portfolio priced in the range of Rs 5,999-40,000. “It is about bringing innovation and technology to consumers.”

Analysts said launch of new OnePlus smartphones and new devices from Samsung will drive the segment in the coming months. Apple will also help in expanding the segment as it readies to make other high-end phones in India to reduce duty pains, having already slashed the price of the XR model which has started to move fast in the market, which will bring down prices of its latest models.

Pathak said vendors are now looking to build brand loyalty among consumers, being available across price segments, including the premium segment.



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