Samsung sees its best qtr for smartphones

Raju Pullan, senior vice-president of Samsung’s India mobile business.
Raju Pullan, senior vice-president of Samsung’s India mobile business.

Summary

  • Co expects better show in H2, led by foldable smartphones’ success

New Delhi: Despite consecutive quarters of decline in overall smartphone sales in India and tepid projections for the upcoming festive season, the local arm of Korean electronics conglomerate, Samsung, anticipates its best-ever September quarter for its smartphone business.

According to Raju Pullan, senior vice-president of Samsung India’s mobile business, the firm expects better performance in the second half of 2023. “We launched our foldables this month. They are doing very well. We expect to see highest numbers ever in this ongoing quarter, led by the premium segment of smartphones, and across all platforms. Starting with the long weekend period of 15 August, which bolstered large-format retail and related promotions, we saw some of the healthiest growth during this period."

A smartphone market report by International Data Corp. released on 3 August, said Samsung is the second-largest player in the Indian smartphone market, commanding a 15.7% market share in the first half of the year, despite a 6.2% decline in unit shipments.

However, Pullan suggested the “highest ever" September quarter sales will pave the way for Samsung’s growth in 2023. “Our India growth strategy is not about promotions alone, it is also launching right products at the right time so that consumers have maximum acquisition period. Through the second half of this year, we’re projecting strong double-digit growth," he added.

Samsung had been the leader in India’s smartphone market for a considerable time until the emergence of China’s Xiaomi, which claimed the top spot in the December quarter of 2017

However, Xiaomi is currently grappling with its own downward trajectory—relinquishing its leading position in the final quarter of 2022 due to an ongoing slump. According to IDC, the brand slipped to the fifth place in the domestic smartphone market in the first half of the year, with a nearly 40% decline in shipments.

On Wednesday, Samsung said its latest foldable smartphones registered 150,000-plus pre-orders. “This gave us almost 1,500 crore with pre-booking of our latest foldable smartphones…this meant a growth of 1.5x in the number of units we sold in pre-booking this year, over last year’s foldable phone sales," Pullan added.

The year 2023 is also the first time when both of Samsung’s most recent generation foldable smartphones were manufactured at the company’s Noida assembly plant.

Pullan, however, said the expansion of the smartphone industry is majorly driven by the premium segment. “Samsung is number-one in volume and value in the past quarters, which suggest that we are growing ahead of the market. Analysts said there is slowdown in the sub-$200 (sub- 15,000) price bracket but we’re seeing huge uptake in the premium segment. This is being driven by affordability…via our in-house financing scheme, we’re presently doing 400,000 transactions every month," he added.

However, industry stakeholders remain bearish on the growth prospects of smartphone brands in the short term. Manish Khatri, partner at Mumbai-based retailer Mahesh Telecom, said demand for smartphones remains low, but Apple’s iPhones, and Samsung’s foldable line are witnessing significant sales.

Samsung is now seeking to cash in on this trend during the festival season. “We have trained 15,000 retailers with our upgrade programme. Users are also expected to upgrade their devices."

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