Samsung back to chasing Xiaomi as India smartphone market shrinks

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Samsung and Xiaomi’s fierce rivalry in India continued in Q4 2020, albeit at a slightly slower pace than what we’ve previously seen. New industry data suggests Xiaomi regained the leading position in the last remaining bastion for smartphone growth on the planet. Well, the last if you forget about China like China forgot about Samsung, that is.

In terms of growth, both Samsung and Xiaomi fared worse in India over the final three months of 2020 than they did a year earlier. They consequently ended up losing the equivalent of four and six percentage points’ worth of steam respectively, IDC reports. The market itself declined 1.7% for the first time in years, reaching “only” 150 million units for the entirety of the last year.

Can Samsung retake the lead by spring?

Samsung pulled off a photo finish triumph over Xiaomi in the preceding three-month period by seizing roughly 24% of all smartphone sales in India, just 1% more than its Beijing-based rival. But Xiaomi returned in a dominant fashion over the last quarter, grabbing 27% of domestic smartphone sales as opposed to Samsung’s 17%.

Of course, Samsung tends to operate on a whole other level insomuch that profit margins are concerned. But as the final international battleground in this highly saturated industry, the allure India poses for smartphone manufacturers goes beyond a couple of boosted earnings calls.

This isn’t to say that it should, mind you; the ultra-competitive state of India’s smartphone market made most consumers in the South Asian country loyal to no one but the most generous deal that happens to be live next time they’re shopping for a smartphone. But that’s hardly a problem from a consumer perspective.

Not to mention that Samsung can certainly afford to rethink the concept of smartphone value, even in a country of roughly 440 million potential customers and counting. In fact, it just did so again earlier today – how does $3.70 per megapixel sound?

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