At the time of writing, Samsung is the world’s largest manufacturer of Android-powered devices, although its lead over the rest of the market has been narrowed over the last two years as a number of Chinese manufacturers have caught up. Samsung has started to evolve its product range, a process that started with many words following the disappointing sales of the Samsung Galaxy S4. The 2014 Samsung Galaxy S5 was also a disappointing selling device and Samsung promised it would overhaul its flagship smartphone for 2015. This resulted in the Samsung Galaxy S6, a device that introduced the Galaxy S-family to a premium metal and glass build, an internal embedded battery, a new cutting edge Exynos 7420 chipset and a cleaned up, streamlined software experience. The 2015 Galaxy S6 was followed up by the 2016 Galaxy S7, which reintroduced the MicroSD card and a waterproof chassis. Samsung remains under pressure from both premium competitors (Apple’s iPhone) but the Samsung Galaxy S7 is still one of 2016’s best smartphones several months after launch. At the premium range of the market, Samsung appeared to be performing well and it released the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 to much applause. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Note 7 has a manufacturing or design defect, which causes the battery to explode. Samsung recalled the Galaxy Note 7 not once but twice, and the second time it did not replace them with the same model but instead refunded or exchanged for an alternative model from the Samsung portfolio.
In the Indian market, Samsung’s market share is currently 48%. The South Korean conglomerate faces intense competition at the lower end of the market and is struggling here, but at the higher end of the market, Samsung appeared to have things wrapped up: market research company, Counterpoint Research, reported that in the third quarter, Samsung had captured almost 60% of the premium Indian smartphone market (that is, devices costing $450 or more). However, Counterpoint Research now believe Samsung is set to witness a significant decline in premium device market share for the rest of the year as consumer confidence is weakened in the brand. Instead, Counterpoint sees the Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus as being a major beneficiary from the Galaxy Note 7’s battery issues. The fourth quarter is traditionally the most important for the smartphone industry as many smartphones are given as gifts and Counterpoint do not believe Samsung will benefit from this trend as they have for the last number of years.
Counterpoint Research have provided some estimates as to how badly Samsung could be impacted, and these do not make for pretty reading: their preliminary forecast is that Samsung’s premium device share will drop to 35% but Apple’s share will increase to 57%. Samsung, perhaps predictably, do not believe with Counterpoint’s market acumen. The company is to be relying on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge to drive fourth quarter sales in the Indian market. Given that the Galaxy Note family of devices did not sell in anything like the same numbers as the more mainstream Galaxy S flagship line, we will see how things pan out for the company.