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India may be a price sensitive market for smartphones, but the premium space is still growing

Apple, Samsung and OnePlus control 94 percent of the premium smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research.

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We’ve always heard about how India is a price-sensitive market when it comes to just about anything. For a country where the percentage of income tax payers is a single-digit figure, this isn’t surprising. And when it comes to smartphones, indeed the volumes and growth figures clearly indicate that affordability is the surest way to success. It’s a large part of the reason why Xiaomi leads the Indian smartphone market today.

Premium sells well in India

This widespread generalization of the Indian market doesn’t mean that more expensive smartphones don’t sell. In fact, they sell rather well, and growth is strong even in the premium smartphone segment. Counterpoint Research has published its latest findings on the smartphone market in India, and the premium segment was found to be the second-fastest growing segment in India, with 20 percent growth in the current financial year. That brings me to my point – most people might buy affordable smartphones, but many are buying pricier smartphones as well.

The rise of Apple, Samsung and OnePlus

It’s for this very reason that brands such as Apple, Samsung and OnePlus are succeeding. Together, these three brands control 94 percent of the premium smartphone market, with positive responses for each of their flagship offerings of 2017. According to Counterpoint’s findings, Apple leads the segment thanks to strong sales of the Apple iPhone X and Apple iPhone 7.

OnePlus registered a massive 343 percent growth to become one of the big three contenders in 2017. The Apple iPhone X accounted for 21 percent of the overall sales in the premium segment, with the OnePlus 5T in second place at 17 percent. Samsung had strong performance from its premium range as well, with the Galaxy Note 8, Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ all performing well.

What does the market trend indicate?

At this point, 20 percent growth may not sound like a lot, particularly when you consider that the premium segment still accounts for only a small portion of overall smartphone sales. However, as India develops, and more people get onto the smartphone bandwagon, this will only continue to grow. The Indian mentality of price sensitivity will always remain, and the majority will choose to stick to affordability.

However, the premium minority will grow too, and India remains an important market for manufacturers of premium smartphones. And although three brands hold the lion’s share of the segment, other players such as LG, Google, Xiaomi, Huawei and HMD Global (Nokia) continue to offer strong competition as well.

As buyers get more savvy, they will realize the benefits that premium smartphones offer. Furthermore, with increasing comfort in shopping online, improved availability of information and incredible steps in the direction of innovation, the idea of paying a lot of money for a smartphone is starting to make sense.

I strongly believe that having a top-end smartphone makes a huge difference in so many ways. It’s definitely made a difference to me personally. It increases your productivity, change the way you work, takes better pictures and does it quicker. Considering smartphones are such an important part of our lives today, it’s only obvious that we get the best device we can.

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  • Published Date: February 1, 2018 10:59 AM IST