The recent report by a research firm stating that Micromax has overtaken Samsung as the largest mobile phone seller in India may have surprised many but shocked only a few. For, the complacency shown by Samsung was bound to hit it at some point – remember the fate of Nokia. Samsung has denied the reports, but it is no surprise that they have been almost overtaken by the new kids in the entire lower and middle segments.
The mid segment attack was launched by Motorola with their Moto G, which offered powerful features at a mouth-watering price (now around Rs. 11000). It was followed by Asus (remember they make the Nexus 7 tablets) with their Zenfone5 series. And now, with Xiaomi Mi3 offering iPhone-like features and build quality at around the same price, Samsung is nowhere in the picture.
The lower segment was always under assault from Micromax, Karbonn, Spice and other Indian manufacturers. Though the quality was questionable, customers weren’t complaining since they offered great value for money. Now this segment is also under assault from the new mid segment kids – with Moto E, Asus Zenfone4 and Xiaomi Redmi, all available at around Rs.6000. Even Micromax and other Indian manufacturers may be forced to compete further down the price scale.
In the higher segments, Samsung does have brand value with their Galaxy S series. But here Sony is making a grand comeback. Samsung has been accused of cloning iPhone designs (the case is still on in US between Samsung and Apple) and mass-producing the same. Sony, on the other hand, has some great R&D – they have the best display technology (from their Bravia TV), and the best Camera features (their own Exmor sensor technology). Add to this their entire high end Z series are waterprrof, dustproof, and shockproof. At least in India, their service is vastly superior to Samsung.
Even in UI, the part which is straight visible to users, Samsung has fell behind. Motorola offers plain Android UI, but it is fast and always upgraded to the latest Android. Asus is recent in mobile phones but their ZenUI has won accolades for its ease of use, practicality and low system usage. Xiaomi is actually a pioneer in UI, in fact they first started in Android UI, the phones came later! It is slick and fluid with an amazing range of customizations on offer – and all supported by a very vibrant community. Touchwiz, Samsung’s UI, was just not in the same league.
Still, all is not lost for Samsung. They have the best brand value, a vast dealer/service network in India (Moto and Xiaomi are online-only), India-specific applications, and a robust range of products for everyone. How well they tackle the challenge will determine their fate.