With competition in the mid-range smartphone segment in India getting more intense by the day, South Korean electronics major Samsung Electronics reportedly plans to launch a slew of new devices under its newly established Galaxy J sub-brand. The phones will be priced in the all-important Rs. 9,000 ($145) to Rs. 18,000 ($290) price category. The first two devices from the series, the Galaxy J7 and the Galaxy J5 are likely to be launched as early as the next month itself. The company is also said to launch its next generation phablet flagship, the much-awaited Galaxy Note 5, in September this year, just as the festive season in India will begin to kick in.
Samsung has been the undisputed leader in the premium segment in India, beating out not just fellow Android manufacturers like LG, Sony and HTC by the proverbial country mile, but also Apple, which has its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the $800+ price categories. Samsung sells its similarly priced Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and Galaxy Note 4 smartphones in the premium segment. The company however, has lost ground drastically in the mid-range and entry-level segments over the past couple of years. Analysts have attributed that loss of market share mainly to attractive new launches by aggressive rivals like Xiaomi, OnePlus, Lenovo and Asus in the mid-range, and local vendors like Micromax, Karbonn, Spice, Lava, etc. at the entry-level.
The new Samsung India President, Mr. HyunChil Hong, is said to be behind the new strategy of introducing newer, more competent products in the segment rather than launching multiple variants of the same phones at inflated prices, which confuses uninitiated buyers, and fails to impress spec-hungry gadget freaks on a budget. That outdated strategy has resulted in the company’s market share diminishing radically, from a high of around 43% in 2013 to a low of 23% in 2014. While Samsung recovered somewhat in Q1 2015 through price-cuts and introduction of yet newer variants, the emergence and acceptance of newer Chinese brands is not something the company would have accounted for, leading to the current strategy reorganization.
The mid-range smartphone segment, as mentioned, is seeing a lot of action of late. Asus is already prepping the launch a fresher ZenFone 2 series with Qualcomm processors and laser auto-focus, and both Xiaomi and OnePlus are scheduled to launch newer models in the segment later this year. Lenovo has just launched its K3 Note mid-range phablet earlier on Thursday with high-end specifications, and is also expected to launch at least one new Motorola-branded device in the segment before the end of the year. All of this makes for very interesting times for the end-consumer, with more options and better performance at extremely affordable prices.