When you have 40 percent share of the smartphone market and have been widening the gap with your competitor every quarter, it should be cause for some celebration. But Ranjit Yadav, country head, Samsung Mobile & IT, says it’s not enough. He has set a target to take that figure to 60 per cent by the end of this year.
Yadav is walking the talk. “As smartphones become ‘smarter’, it is also important for us to make our consumers more aware about how the devices can add more value for them. We have one of the largest networks in the country with more than 300 smartphone cafes and presence across more than 100,000 retail touch points,” says Yadav. The number is set to go up sharply. Samsung has also introduced brand stores, the first of which was set up in Delhi a few months ago.
Samsung, in fact, went ahead of Nokia in the smartphone segment in September 2011 in terms of unit shipment. The latest surge has of course been provided by the S3 smartphone. Since the launch of the phone a month ago, it has already sold 100,000 units in India. According to the latest Cybermedia Research India Monthly mobile handset market review, the total India smartphone sales touched 2.7 million units during January-March 2012. Samsung emerged the leader with a 40.4 per cent share, followed by Nokia with 25.5 per cent and RIM with 12.3 per cent.
Analysts attribute Samsung’s success to the continuous launch of new products and a razor sharp focus on increasing its presence in the smartphone segment.
“Samsung’s India market share gain is a reflection of the strategy that the company has adopted globally. It has also created an exceptional series of devices under the Galaxy brand. But amidst all this, in India, it has not lost sight of the volumes segment — that means having products in the Rs 5,000 and upwards range,” says Anshul Gupta, Principal Research Analyst, Gartner.
Samsung has 17 smartphone models available across OS platforms (Android, Bada and Windows).
What has helped Samsung in India is the rapid decline of Nokia in the smartphone space. Though in the overall mobile handest share, Nokia is still the leader with a 23 per cent share, followed by Samsung at 14.1 per cent, Nokia’s FY12 revenue went down by 8 per cent in FY 12. This is because the Finnish company lost market share in smartphones and multi-media segment to Samsung, HTC and Apple, among others.
Anirban Banerjee, Associate Vice President, Research and Advisory Services, CyberMedia Research, says as the India mobile handsets market grows in maturity, the needs of users are clearly seen to be converging around two major factors – high-power, high-speed smartphones vis-à-vis value-plus, content-enabled feature phones. While most players are strong in a particular category, Samsung and others have been able to maintain a strong presence across the spectrum, driven mainly by innovation, quick time-to-market and a segmented approach.
Yadav says innovation will be crucial for the success of future devices. “One of our strengths is our ability to constantly innovate to bring the best possible products to our consumers. Whether it is the Galaxy Note with its innovative and intuitive S Pen; our innovations in the Dual SIM segment or the latest innovations in the Galaxy S III like Smart Stay, our phone with the Projector, Galaxy Beam etc, we have brought the latest technology to our consumers,” he adds.
What has also worked for Samsung is the clear distinction of products. Each of this distinction is based on the OS that the company has. The Wave brand of phones is based on its proprietary Bada OS; Omnia uses Windows and its most popular category Galaxy is on Android.
Creating this differentiation was also part of the company’s marketing strategy. “As an example of innovative marketing, for Samsung Galaxy Note, we had the challenge of creating a new category of smartphones and creating a product differentiation. To ensure that the consumers have enough scope to experience the new device and learn about it, we set up ‘Experience Zones’ in malls and other high footfall areas and created new display and demo stations in our retail stores. Through our integrated marketing efforts, we created more than seven million user experiences which helped us firmly establish the Galaxy Note as new category,” says Yadav.
Samsung is now aiming higher – it wants to take a shot at the top spot in the overall mobile handset space. “In order to cater to these diverse segments, we have one of the widest range of phones (50). On Smartphones , we offer the widest choice in terms of OS platforms and have devices that run on Android, Bada and Windows. To cater to the Dual SIM segment, we have recently launched the first Dual SIM Smartphones in India — Galaxy Ace Duos, Galaxy Y Duos and Galaxy Y Pro Duos,” says Yadav.
The ability to quickly change and bring a wide variety of products has clearly helped Samsung carve out a decent space in the fast growing Indian market.