The war for smartphone market leadership is going to peak in the next two quarters, with Samsung, desperate to regain the top slot, locking horns with Xiaomi in one of the biggest fights in the Indian marketplace. The country’s second-largest smartphone maker Samsung is going to launch one-two handset models every month under the A series which will straddle across the sub-Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 price point till June, even as it will expand the online exclusive M series portfolio which was launched in India first in February. The Korean firm has three handset models under the M series and relaunched the A series earlier this month in a move to refresh its portfolio.
Samsung is going to have “extremely competitive pricing” for these specification-heavy smartphones, having managed to convince headquarters in Seoul that it would have to give up on profit margins in this business to regain leadership in India, three senior industry executives said. They also said the Korean company wants to become smartphone leader by the festive season. In contrast, market leader Xiaomi has increased its promotional spending, and for the first time, doled out incentives to retailers to push sales by 80-100%. The scheme is aimed at pushing all models except the top-selling Redmi 6A and new models to drive sell-out, the executives said.
The Chinese firm has also rejigged its sales leadership team in India with erstwhile south business head and chief of Mi Store Sunil Baby now the chief of offline sales. Erstwhile sales head Deepak Nakra has been made the chief of the offline consumer electronics business, the executives said. Xiaomi India spokesperson confirmed the changes. Analysts said it’s going to be a close fight for leadership this year. “Yes, it will be a close fight but on different fronts such as channel and portfolio expansion along with marketing,” said Tarun Pathak, associate director at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint Technology Market Research. Samsung did not respond to an email query. The Xiaomi spokesperson said Xiaomi has an extremely lean offline model and continues to spend minimal dollars on marketing and operational costs.