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India premium segment leader OnePlus faces some real threat  

New Delhi

26-February-2020

The sudden push by the smartphone makers in the Rs 30,000 and above price segment in India is tantamount to the fact that this segment is the next growth arena and current market leader OnePlus will have to devise new strategies to counter new brands like iQOO 3 5G, Realme X50 Pro 5G and Samsung Galaxy 'Lite' series in months to come.

The India premium smartphone market currently contributes just 5 per cent but is growing faster than the overall market - at 30 per cent - and is estimated to grow even faster.

"This means that the segment will have multiple brands to grow and co-exist at the same time. OnePlus should see this as an opportunity and look for areas to further differentiate it from its competitors in the Android camp. We believe Rs 30,000 to Rs 45,000 price segment still offer a lot of potential in India," Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

Chinese smartphone maker Realme has launched its first 5G smartphone 'X50 Pro 5G' in India, available in two colours and three variants -- Rs 37,999 (6GB+128GB), Rs 39,999 (8GB+128GB) and Rs 44,999 (12GB+256GB).

The iQOO 3 5G device is available in three variants -- 8GB/128GB with 4G connectivity for Rs 36,990, the 8GB/256GB 4G variant for Rs 39,990 and the 5G-enabled variant of the phone with 12GB/256GB storage at Rs 44,990.

The 6.7-inch Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal memory costs Rs 39,999 while Galaxy Note10 Lite is priced at Rs 38,999 for the 6GB variant and Rs 40,999 for the 8GB variant and both models come with 128GB internal memory.

Last year was an excellent one for OnePlus. Riding on its OnePlus 7 series, the Chinese smartphone maker led the Indian premium market with 33 per cent market share. The company became the first-ever premium smartphone brand surpassing 20 lakh shipments in a year in the country.

But with new brands entering its territory, OnePlus is looking at some real competition ahead. Its brand images, however, is its biggest saviour, till now.

"In the premium segment, brand plays a key role in helping users decide about the purchase. iQOO has no great legacy to showcase and it will have to prove its mettle which will take time. Realme started with the brand for masses and in premium segment, the pitch is not about offering more for less but about standing out distinctively," Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC told IANS.

To counter the competition, OnePlus is likely to leverage its brand image to the fullest.

"At the same time, OnePlus needs to work towards building an ecosystem-level approach to not only keep the existing user base intact but also acquire new users," said Pathak.

Apple is also reportedly planning to launch a new smartphone in the very same category which may be called wither iPhone SE 2 or iPhone 9.

Apple reached a record 75.6 per cent market share in the fourth quarter of 2019 in India and the credit goes to the stellar performance of iPhone 11 and price drop on previous generation models.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), in the premium ($500 or Rs 36,000 and above) segment, Apple reached a record 75.6 per cent market share.

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, IDC India, while the first half of 2019 was relatively slower for Apple, it managed to find growth in the second half.

"It happened on the back of price drops on previous generation iphone models (iPhone XR, 7, 8). This, along with affordability schemes like cashbacks, EMIs especially on the e-tailer platforms during festive quarter of Diwali, led to this growth," Singh told IANS recently.

All eyes are now on the upcoming OnePlus 8 flagship series, which will decide the fate of the brand's leadership in the country.-IANS