Samsung led the premium smartphone segment in India in 2018 with 34 percent share of shipments, followed closely by OnePlus at 33 percent, Counterpoint Research said on Wednesday. At third position, Apple had 23 percent market share as the overall premium smartphone segment grew by 8 percent (year-on-year) for the full year and 16 percent (YoY) for Q4 2018. Together, these brands accounted for 92 percent of the overall premium market in Q4 2018.
OnePlus recorded its highest-ever shipments in a single quarter (Q4), capturing a 36 percent market share to lead premium smartphone segment for three successive quarters. Counterpoint Research in its blog post notes that while Samsung led the premium smartphone market for the full year in terms of shipments, OnePlus led the market for the full year in terms of sell-through.
"OnePlus 6 (15 percent of overall premium smartphone shipments) was the best-selling premium model throughout 2018 in terms of shipment as well as in retail value. OnePlus 6T (10 percent of shipments) was positioned at second place followed by Samsung S9+ (8 percent of shipments)," said Karn Chauhan, Research Analyst at Counterpoint. OnePlus' success in the premium smartphone segment was driven by strong demand for the OnePlus 6T during the festive Diwali season. OnePlus' expansion into the offline space along with 'Experience Stores' will help it reach potential user base in coming quarters, Chauhan added.
Samsung captured 26 percent share of the premium segment in Q4 2018, and its shipments grew 72 percent (YoY). "The newly-launched Galaxy A9, the world's first quad rear camera phone, in Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 40,000 price segment attributed towards Samsung's growth, which is in direct competition with OnePlus," said the report.
Apple's premium segment shipments declined 25 percent (YoY) in Q4 2018 mainly due to extreme high-premium-commanding pricing for iPhone models as Apple continues to choose to pay 20 percent import duty on new imported iPhones instead of manufacturing in India, the report said.
"As a result, we believe Apple to start manufacturing locally for latest iPhones in 2019and beyond to potentially lower the current higher iPhone pricing," said Chauhan.
The report added that competition for Apple can be expected to increase this year thanks to premium smartphone models from Chinese brands such as Huawei, as well as the aggressive sales and distribution strategy from OnePlus, Samsung, Huawei, and Google.
The premium smartphone market is now within the Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 1,45,000 price band, and thus, Counterpoint claims “differentiation among premium smartphones has become more essential.”
“We will see in this year most flagship phones to innovate on hardware by adding 5G and multi-gigabit capabilities, unibody button-less design with advance biometrics, Xtended Reality (XR) and gaming. We will see most of the popular features from last year such as multi-camera configuration, AI and notch display trickle down to below Rs. 30,000 segment,” Chauhan said.
Written with inputs from IANS