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Samsung’s S8 plan: Move over Note 7 debacle before Apple comes with iPhone8

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With iPhone8 to be launched only in the second half of 2017, the field is wide open for Samsung

In the cut-throat world of smartphones, out of sight is virtually out of mind. And if the period of absence stretches for over six months, bouncing back can be a really big challenge. Korean chaebol appears to have taken this challenge head-on with the launch of the S8, its flagship that is coming after the Note 7 crisis in October.


How serious is about the S8 can be gauged from this: The phone, along with its upgraded version S8+, was unveiled in India on April 19 within a month of its global launch. The intent, say experts, is clear: Take on rival Apple, which has grown in share in the super-premium category. Super-premium phones are those that are priced at Rs 50,000 and above.


and have traditionally clashed head-on in this segment described as the “creamiest” of categories. India is among their favourite battlegrounds owing to the consistent growth of the market here. While demonetisation did take the sheen off the market in the fourth quarter of calendar  2016, India’s category closed the year at around 113 million units, a modest growth of 19 per cent over the previous year, according to Cybermedia Research.


Niel Shah, analyst, Counterpoint Research says consumers are not sensitive to price in the super-premium category, focusing instead on the kind of features that players bring to the table. 


Both and have fought to outdo each other in terms of product features, raising the bar with every launch. The S8, for instance, has a feature called “infinity display” that takes the curved screen display, which offers a cinema-theatre like view, to the next level, says Shah. 


The illusion of a big screen with no boundaries, he says, is complete with infinite display, with no home button as a distraction. The home button, interestingly, has given way to a softer key with a pressure sensor embedded under the display, sector experts say. Additionally, has taken the fight to Apple’s door with the launch of a talking assistant called Bixby on the lines of Apple’s Siri. S8 also has a facial recognition app.


“These features could be a big draw in India, especially infinity display. The latter could click here because display plays a key role for buyers in India,” Shah says.


Prior to the Note 7 crisis, Samsung’s market share was in the region of 50-55 per cent, while Apple’s share was 45-46 per cent, data sourced from Cybermedia Research shows.


Following the Note 7 crisis, Samsung’s share reduced to 17 per cent, according to data from Cybermedia Research for January and February 2017. March figures were not immediately available. 


Apple, on the other hand, saw its share grow to 80 per cent in January and February 2017, Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst, telecom and semitronics, CyberMedia Research, says.


“The addressable market for therefore in the super-premium segment has actually shrunk in the last few months, implying that the company will have to work really hard to regain lost ground,” Kawoosa says.


According to industry experts, the super-premium category in India is about 4 per cent (or 4.5 million units) of the overall 113-million-unit domestic market. This means the fight for market share will not be easy for in a niche category. 


“While the super-premium segment is a growing one, it is still relatively small,” Kawoosa says. “So if one player gains share at the cost of the other, it will not be easy for the other one to bounce back. In Samsung’s case, those residual memories of batteries burning still linger in consumers’ minds. So people will be careful when buying,” he says.


Not a lost plot
 

executives, though, are confident of staging a comeback. In an earlier conversation with Business Standard, Asim Warsi, senior vice-president for mobile business, India, said that quality was the top-most priority for the company and that it would take all necessary safeguards in this regard. 


In the case of the S8, this translates, say experts, into an 8-level battery check, introduced after the Note 7 battery explosions, which not only hit sales but also dented Samsung’s image as a solid performer.


At the time of the S8 and S8+launch in India, HC Hong, president and chief executive officer, Southwest Asia, said, “With these phones, is unboxing smartphones that transcend the boundaries of meaningful innovations.”


A day before Samsung’s S8 launch in India, said globally that it was working on new features for its tenth anniversary edition of the iPhone (tentatively called the iphone8), indicating that it had no plans to abdicate the ground it had gained in Samsung’s absence at the premium end, especially in markets like India, where it is growing quickly. 


But with the iPhone8 to be launched only in the second half of 2017, Samsung, say experts, has time to work its way up in the super-premium segment.


has also priced the S8 competitively at Rs 57,900, while the S8+ is available for Rs 64,900. 


The iPhone 7, in contrast, was launched in October last year at Rs 60,000 for a 32GB variant. The 128GB version was available for Rs 70,000, and the 256GB version at Rs 80,000. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, was available for Rs 72,000 for the 32GB variant; Rs 82,000 for the 128GB version, and Rs 92,000 for the 256GB phone.


Though buyers of super-premium phones remain inelastic to price, sector experts say Samsung’s attempt to keep S8’s price points within the Rs 57,000 to Rs 65,000 price bracket would help in improving sales.

Samsung’s S8 plan: Move over Note 7 debacle before Apple comes with iPhone8

With iPhone8 to be launched only in the second half of 2017, the field is wide open for Samsung

With iPhone8 to be launched only in the second half of 2017, the field is wide open for Samsung

In the cut-throat world of smartphones, out of sight is virtually out of mind. And if the period of absence stretches for over six months, bouncing back can be a really big challenge. Korean chaebol appears to have taken this challenge head-on with the launch of the S8, its flagship that is coming after the Note 7 crisis in October.


How serious is about the S8 can be gauged from this: The phone, along with its upgraded version S8+, was unveiled in India on April 19 within a month of its global launch. The intent, say experts, is clear: Take on rival Apple, which has grown in share in the super-premium category. Super-premium phones are those that are priced at Rs 50,000 and above.


and have traditionally clashed head-on in this segment described as the “creamiest” of categories. India is among their favourite battlegrounds owing to the consistent growth of the market here. While demonetisation did take the sheen off the market in the fourth quarter of calendar  2016, India’s category closed the year at around 113 million units, a modest growth of 19 per cent over the previous year, according to Cybermedia Research.


Niel Shah, analyst, Counterpoint Research says consumers are not sensitive to price in the super-premium category, focusing instead on the kind of features that players bring to the table. 


Both and have fought to outdo each other in terms of product features, raising the bar with every launch. The S8, for instance, has a feature called “infinity display” that takes the curved screen display, which offers a cinema-theatre like view, to the next level, says Shah. 


The illusion of a big screen with no boundaries, he says, is complete with infinite display, with no home button as a distraction. The home button, interestingly, has given way to a softer key with a pressure sensor embedded under the display, sector experts say. Additionally, has taken the fight to Apple’s door with the launch of a talking assistant called Bixby on the lines of Apple’s Siri. S8 also has a facial recognition app.


“These features could be a big draw in India, especially infinity display. The latter could click here because display plays a key role for buyers in India,” Shah says.


Prior to the Note 7 crisis, Samsung’s market share was in the region of 50-55 per cent, while Apple’s share was 45-46 per cent, data sourced from Cybermedia Research shows.


Following the Note 7 crisis, Samsung’s share reduced to 17 per cent, according to data from Cybermedia Research for January and February 2017. March figures were not immediately available. 


Apple, on the other hand, saw its share grow to 80 per cent in January and February 2017, Faisal Kawoosa, principal analyst, telecom and semitronics, CyberMedia Research, says.


“The addressable market for therefore in the super-premium segment has actually shrunk in the last few months, implying that the company will have to work really hard to regain lost ground,” Kawoosa says.


According to industry experts, the super-premium category in India is about 4 per cent (or 4.5 million units) of the overall 113-million-unit domestic market. This means the fight for market share will not be easy for in a niche category. 


“While the super-premium segment is a growing one, it is still relatively small,” Kawoosa says. “So if one player gains share at the cost of the other, it will not be easy for the other one to bounce back. In Samsung’s case, those residual memories of batteries burning still linger in consumers’ minds. So people will be careful when buying,” he says.


Not a lost plot
 

executives, though, are confident of staging a comeback. In an earlier conversation with Business Standard, Asim Warsi, senior vice-president for mobile business, India, said that quality was the top-most priority for the company and that it would take all necessary safeguards in this regard. 


In the case of the S8, this translates, say experts, into an 8-level battery check, introduced after the Note 7 battery explosions, which not only hit sales but also dented Samsung’s image as a solid performer.


At the time of the S8 and S8+launch in India, HC Hong, president and chief executive officer, Southwest Asia, said, “With these phones, is unboxing smartphones that transcend the boundaries of meaningful innovations.”


A day before Samsung’s S8 launch in India, said globally that it was working on new features for its tenth anniversary edition of the iPhone (tentatively called the iphone8), indicating that it had no plans to abdicate the ground it had gained in Samsung’s absence at the premium end, especially in markets like India, where it is growing quickly. 


But with the iPhone8 to be launched only in the second half of 2017, Samsung, say experts, has time to work its way up in the super-premium segment.


has also priced the S8 competitively at Rs 57,900, while the S8+ is available for Rs 64,900. 


The iPhone 7, in contrast, was launched in October last year at Rs 60,000 for a 32GB variant. The 128GB version was available for Rs 70,000, and the 256GB version at Rs 80,000. The iPhone 7 Plus, on the other hand, was available for Rs 72,000 for the 32GB variant; Rs 82,000 for the 128GB version, and Rs 92,000 for the 256GB phone.


Though buyers of super-premium phones remain inelastic to price, sector experts say Samsung’s attempt to keep S8’s price points within the Rs 57,000 to Rs 65,000 price bracket would help in improving sales.


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Viveat Susan Pinto

Business Standard

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