India is a market that the world’s smartphone manufacturers cannot ignore. It is currently one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world and is set to overtake the United States of America in smartphones sales by 2017. This strong growth, which showed an increase of 21% in the first quarter of 2015 compared with Q1 2014, is underpinned by India’s developing economy and strong increase in the number of online users. The smartphone is a simple and highly portable way to get online, requiring relatively little in terms of infrastructure compared with fixed line broadband. The potential of the Indian market is not being ignored by domestic companies and there are several producing devices for the local market. As such, the Indian market has evolved quickly leaving many of the international smartphone manufacturers struggling to keep up. The bigger selling devices are the lower priced, entry level to mid range devices: four out of every five smartphones sold belongs in these camps. It’s here we are seeing many new models, some with innovative and stand-out features, most recently in the battery capacity department. However, Samsung has maintained the top spot in the market since it first started selling smartphones. In Q1 2015, it had almost 26% of the market, outperforming second place Indian manufacturer, Micromax, which managed a little under 20%.
Samsung, however, are not resting on their laurels. Their low and mid-range device face stiff competition from local (Indian) manufacturers plus a myriad of Chinese companies, many of which are investing in Indian manufacturing plants driven by the Indian government’s “Make in India” campaign. This has certainly helped Samsung as their third largest smartphone factory is based in India. We have also seen plans from Samsung to build another factory in the region with an investment of $100 million, although it will manufacture the flagship Galaxy S6 family of devices. Samsung is consolidating its position as the number one in the market by introducing a number of new lower to mid range models, specifically in the J-series. We are expecting the Galaxy J2, Galaxy J5 and Galaxy J7 to be introduced in September. These smartphones will go head to head with low cost, high specification competitor models such as the Xiaomi Redmi 2, Lenovo A7000 and YU Yuphoria.
It will be interesting to see how the Galaxy J models line up compared with the other lower and mid-range models in the Samsung portfolio, these being the Galaxy A and Galaxy E devices. The J series are currently sold for prices ranging from around $90 up to approximately $220 and are the cheapest LTE-equipped devices in the Samsung portfolio. We have also seen Samsung experimenting with other devices, such as the first Tizen OS handset, the Z1, which was introduced in January. With new production facilities boosting the existing plant, a range of new devices and a willingness to experiment, Samsung appears to have all of the tools it needs to compete with the competition. And with the Indian smartphone market being so significant, the stakes are potentially high.