Premium smartphone battle to heat up in India with Apple’s iPhone 12 series launch: Analysts


With the premium segment unlikely to face any slowdown in sales, Apple’s launch of its latest iPhone 12 series, which includes four new smartphones, will force other brands to be more aggressive in the country, analysts said. They say that established brands like Samsung and OnePlus will be more aggressive in their approach leading to a fierce battle with Apple.

According to Counterpoint Research, 40% of premium sales of 2020 in the Rs 30,000 and above segment will happen in Q4 2020 alone, resulting in a 16% yearly growth compared to 8% decline in the overall smartphone market in India.

“This year, India’s premium smartphone segment has seen traction with Chinese brands like Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo launching their premium models. In addition, Samsung has changed strategy with its Light and FE series for Galaxy smartphones. The market will see more action after the iPhone 12 series launch,” Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Research said.

“All brands have capability to showcase their technology expertise. Also, they can make up lost revenue in the entry level through the premium segment,” Pathak said, adding there is no impact of Covid on premium and ultra-premium buyers in India and they will buy smartphones.

Navkendar Singh, research director at IDC, however sees challenges for the premium segment this year and said that the economic conditions are resulting in demand for Rs 20,000 and less price segment.

“Apple’s iPhone 12 series launch will result in action in the Rs 50,000 plus segment in India for a few months post the availability of newer iPhone models,” Singh said.

Pathak said that Samsung and OnePlus are direct competition to Apple and they will be more aggressive with their premium phones. “OnePlus is launching 8T and we expect them to be more aggressive than before.”

Apple is better placed to compete with these brands with its iPhone SE, XR and 11 models which will be available with bank offers and discounts coupled with buybacks. “OnePlus and Samsung will be competing with Apple’s minus one models than their flagship,” Pathak said.

Samsung already has a slew of smartphones in the premium and ultra-premium segment inc including S20 and Note 20 series along with the Galaxy Fold 2.

Madhumita Chaudhary, an independent analyst said that the iPhone 12 is at par in terms of the price point in the premium segment compared to the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and OnePlus 8 Pro.

“However, when we look at the Indian market, I believe the competition is intense across the premium segment. Considering brand perception and recent on-going discounts on iPhone 11, consumers will primarily opt for Apple phones against the Samsung or OnePlus 8 smartphones,” she said.

Prabhu Ram, Head – Industry Intelligence Group, CMR said that the aspirational premium smartphone segment is still wide open and the battle for the high-end premium segment between Samsung and Apple will get fiercer. “Given that Apple is the aspirational brand of choice, smartphone brands in the aspirational premium segment will need to bolster their market offerings.”

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