OnePlus is eyeing the top spot in India's premium smartphone market

By Arnab Dutta , Business Standard, New Delhi | In Digital | March 14, 2018
Data show, OnePlus's rise has dented Samsung's market share in the recent quarters.

Apple and Samsung have been dominating the premium segment of the Indian smartphone market for the past three years. The two brands have been under the spotlight, with over 90 per cent of the share under their belt.

But a late entrant, OnePlus, is changing the dynamics of the above Rs 30,000 price segment. A brand, that had less than 10 per cent market share till mid-2017, is now eyeing the top spot after consolidating its position at the second place.


OnePlus, which began its journey in India in 2014 with one handset model, OnePlus One, has increased its share steadily. According to data from Counterpoint Research, OnePlus's volume share stood at 27 per cent of the premium smartphones shipped to India in January while Apple held 44 per cent and Samsung's 22 per cent.

In early 2017, the tides began to turn in favour for the Chinese firm. The company's market share began to grow steadily from 5 per cent. By September 2017, OnePlus had overtaken Samsung. By the end of 2017, the Chinese firm had emerged as the fastest growing brand after posting 343 per cent growth with 19 per cent market share for the full year.

Tarun Pathak, associate director of Counterpoint Research, said, "OnePlus 5T drove the sales for the brand as it became the second best-selling model within two months of its launch in India. OnePlus enjoys a strong brand loyalty in India. The overall upgrade rate in OnePlus users remain high." According to Vikas Agarwal, general manager of OnePlus India, three factors have worked in the favour of the company.

First, unlike many other handset brands, OnePlus kept its portfolio slim and focused on one model at a time, and priced competitively. Second, it successfully leveraged positive reviews of the customers on the online market place. Third, OnePlus had to follow a strict 'refer only' sales model during its initial days due to supply constraint but from 2016 it had resolved the issue by bringing a local partner on board that now manufactures its handsets.

Agarwal, however, is now staring at the top slot. The new OnePlus 6 is scheduled for launch in June. The brand, which depends mostly on its online sales partner Amazon India, is now gearing up to launch own stores in top eight metro cities. The first OnePlus experience zone has come up in Bangaluru. Increasing local production is on the cards too. Data show, OnePlus's rise has dented Samsung's market share in the recent quarters.

A spokesperson from Samsung India said, "According to GfK, we had posted 52 per cent growth volumes and 51 per cent value market share in the premium segment in the October-December quarter of 2017." Samsung's market leadership in premium segment is on account of the hugely popular Galaxy S8, S8+ and Galaxy Note8." Apple, on the other hand, managed to maintain its top position, despite its iPhone 8 failing to make a mark.

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