• Ajay Sharma

Samsung: The ‘M’peror Strikes Back!

Ready to disrupt the market tomorrow i.e., February 5th!

 

Sa’M’sung is not used to being the No. 2 brand for long, and it is since Q4 of 2017, as per Canalys, that they lost the No. 1 position to #Xiaomi. It must have been very difficult for the Koreans to digest it.

Their think tank would have been working overtime in this period trying to understand what and where was the issue backend, and here’s what they decided to do:

· Play the price:specification war like Xiaomi and #Realme with a specific range.

· Being reasonably secure in offline, go full steam ahead online. While Xiaomi could make a good dent in Samsung’s offline domain, Samsung could not do the same to Xiaomi in online.

The think tank has played their first card with the launch of the #GalaxyMSeries. Based on what we are reading about the two devices – their specifications, their prices – they are ‘M’Powered devices. I am not getting into the specifications and comparisons in detail as there is enough and more data on the net related to it.

Even though the product is supposed to go online (being exclusive with Amazon), it has created ripples in the offline market as well and is being taken as the first aggressive step by Samsung to take on Xiaomi on its ground. The new inexpensive smartphones tick all the right boxes on paper for the same set of customers as Xiaomi – The ‘M’illennials. When I exchange messages or talk to partners, both at distributor and at the retail level, they seem to be confident of a Samsung comeback.

A word of caution though. The segments that the #GalaxyM10 and the #GalaxyM20 have jumped into are extremely competitive in India. However, despite losing a lot of ground to Xiaomi and Realme in the lower mid-segment price range, #Oppo and #Vivo in the mid-segment-price range, and #OnePlus and #Honor in the high-end, it’s safe to say that Samsung is back - back with a bang!

If there’s one thing that Samsung continues to enjoy, it’s brand recognition. It has been rated as the most trusted brand in India. Even when its affordable smartphones were not up to the mark in terms of price expectations, certain consumers still preferred buying a Samsung phone because it was a “safe” choice. With Samsung now taking an active interest in this segment and introducing devices that are truly worth consideration, it’s only going to push the market to newer and greater heights, which, if nothing else, is great for the consumers.

This is just the beginning. Samsung is about to rejig its entire smartphone portfolio and flood the market with nine new #GalaxyASeries smartphones in 2019. This series is allegedly being developed by Samsung’s Chinese team. As per a new benchmark leak, the #SamsungGalaxyA10, would be the affordable device in this year's Galaxy A Series. Based on information available, the Galaxy A Series will have double-digit titles ranging from the #GalaxyA10 to the #GalaxyA90. With the new Galaxy A Series, Samsung aims to directly take on the Chinese competition in the budget to mid-range segment.

The leaks and rumour sso far suggest that Samsung's Galaxy A Series will feature in-display fingerprint sensors, a ToF 3D sensor (3D ToF sensors already exist on some Android phones.) The #OppoR17Pro has one on the rear which lets the users create 3D images by circling the camera around an object. The #Mate20 Pro has a front-facing ToF sensor (mainly used to power its face unlock feature), dual or triple rear camera setups, and Infinity O display to name a few.

The company's entire line up will move towards Samsung's new Infinity design language, which include the Infinity-V, Infinity-O, Infinity-U, where the letters point to the shape of the notch cut-out in the display for the front camera. This was unveiled during Samsung's Developer Conference, late last year.

So Samsung in 2019 will have the J series at the bottom of the pyramid, and the pre-flagship A series with the M series sitting between the two to wrestle back some market share from the Chinese players.

At the top will be the S series. One could expect some big things here. Samsung's Mobile Division CEO, DJ Koh, apparently told Chinese media that big changes are coming, and while he did not specify what these would be, a radical design change makes sense given it's the 10th anniversary of the Galaxy device this year. Rumours are centralised around an in-display front camera, negating the need for a notch. This was first suggested by Bloomberg, and later supported by prolific leaker Evan Blass.

They have already developed the Folding Phone – a possible game changer which should be out in MWC. For sure they will showcase a 5G enabled phone, possibly one of the S10 variants around the same time.


More on the ‘M’ series

“Galaxy M smartphones are powerful and stylish, and have been designed to cater to the aspirations of today’s tech-savvy millennials. With these devices, we have dialled-up a really powerful experience in every dimension. Today’s millennials want a smartphone that is lighting fast, runs longer and comes loaded with latest innovations. Meaningful innovation and customer-centric approach form a part of our very DNA and the new Galaxy M series is an embodiment of that commitment,” Asim Warsi, Senior Vice-President, Samsung India, said.

Although Xiaomi has practically carpeted the budget segment of the smartphone market in India with value-for-money offerings, Samsung has been a long established and trusted brand that stands a good chance of solidifying its position in the country with their new series of smartphones.

Samsung Vs. Xiaomi fight is on! These are the two giants. Samsung ruled the Indian phone market for a long time, it may yet again rule it. You can say that the M20 starts on a right note for Samsung, but the way I see in just a week from its launch, it is going to face a very difficult challenger: Xiaomi #RedmiNote7.


Xiaomi is not totally unprepared

If Samsung is attacking Xiaomi with the M20, it can be safely assumed that Xiaomi is going to hit back. Regardless to say, both the Samsung phones are excellent value for money phones and this should worry other phone manufacturers serving this price segment, including Xiaomi. A big threat to the M20 is going to be the upcoming Redmi Note 7. And Xiaomi too believes it because Xiaomi India, and its chief Manu Kumar Jain, started teasing the launch of the next Redmi a day before M20 and the M10 were launched.

The phone’s specifications are neat. In India, where camera quality is measured by megapixels, the Redmi Note 7 comes with a 48MP primary camera that uses a Samsung ISOCELL sensor on the back.

In China, the Redmi Note 7 has been launched for around Rs 10,500, and one can expect the India price to be similar to the price in China. This means, there are good chances that the Redmi Note 7 India price may fall between Rs.10,000 to Rs12,000. Xiaomi India in its teasers claims that the Redmi Note 7 will "turn the industry upside down". Maybe an aggressive pricing is on the cards.


So, Galaxy M20 vs Redmi Note 7?

Overall, both the Samsung and Xiaomi phones are good in their own way. When it comes to display and battery the Samsung Galaxy M20 does a great job, but if the overall performance, camera and design matter, wait for the Redmi Note 7 which is expected to launch in India in the first half of February.

To be honest, it’s not about Xiaomi or Realme only. This price range boasts of the presence of the maximum brands. All of them could suffer severe collateral damage and resort to price drops, offering special schemes and pushing stocks in panic mode. Vivo has already dropped its price of Y81i to sub Rs. 8k. Others may follow suit.

Samsung is ready with its arsenal to take on competition at every price point. How ready is the competition is a question. Samsung today has possibly just 5% of its market share coming in from online – based on 15% of its sales being from online and online having a 36% share. That leaves 19% share coming from offline.

If the online market goes down to 27%, as is being predicted and also mentioned in my earlier blog and Samsung is able to double its share with their M series (which will not be easy), the online contribution to their market share will still remain at 5% approx. which means the way to the top for Samsung would be to push for a higher share offline, which it can with the A series which fits neatly with the growing price segment and increasing its WoD by another 20,000 as planned.

On the other side Xiaomi with 20% of their market share out of 30% coming from online would stand to lose with the:

· decline in overall online contribution and;

· some of their share being taken by Realme and Samsung.

They have to get much more aggressive to remain on the top and one won’t be surprised if they lose their position to Samsung in Q1 or latest Q2. They are looking susceptible now with service issues starting to hurt them.

Its not just these three brands. The online policy change and Samsung’s M series is going to shake it up for all who play purely on the price specification equation. High time someone changed it.

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