Year 2012 seems to have started with a change of order of sorts among the top mobile companies in the world and India. Apple had briefly handed over the leaders’ podium to Samsung in the global scenario. Closer home it is now turn of Nokia to hand over the mantle to Samsung in the fast growing smart-phone market. Recent reports from Times of India show that Samsung has become the market leader in Smartphone segment in India with a market volume share of 38%. This is a good time to look at some of the factors that have resulted in Samsung’s rise to the top.
While Samsung has been accused of copying Apple’s features in the US, in the Indian market Samsung has led from the front with constant innovation.
Intel has continued to dominate the processor market by innovating better products even while the existing products are selling well. Samsung seems to have closely followed Intel’s footsteps by making advanced versions of their smartphones even before the sales volumes of existing one’s hit peak point. Take the case of Samsung Galaxy S being quickly outdone by the Samsung Galaxy S2 only to be followed by Samsung Galaxy S Plus. Samsung has also created radical innovation by bringing in the concept of the “phablet” with its Samsung Galaxy Note.
At all times, the Indian smartphone battle was effectively between Nokia and Samsung. Where Nokia lost its plot is exactly where Samsung gained its advantage. For reasons that continue to beat my mind, Nokia confused its consumers by using naming convention that had no pattern at all. Even savvy consumers could never find out how C3 is different from a C6 and the difference between Nokia C5-05 ,C5-06 and C5.
On the other hand Samsung had a clear branding of its product line and clearly designated its products based on Operating Systems or Functionalities ( Galaxy for Android, Wave for BADA, Omnia for Windows Os, Duos for Dual Sim).
Providing Affordable Luxury
Even though Samsung sold affordable Smart-phones to cater to one end of the consumer pyramid, it never positioned it as the poor man’s iPhone. Making luxurious and expensive phones such as the Galaxy series which are not just rich in features but could take on most Apple iPhone Samsung sent out a clear message about its brand. It never sold its phones as “cheaper” but as “better and more reasonably priced”.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Tab have fast become premium products that most people aspire to buy. The strategy of distinctive branding helped Samsung make its entry level smart-phones like Samsung Galaxy Y more desirable to the consumers since they benefited from aspirational values of the Galaxy Note.
Aggressive and Innovative Marketing
With Nokia being the long established market leader, Samsung had to break through brand perceptions and build a stronger brand identity as quickly as possible. Samsung has not been shy of using aggressive and innovative marketing ideas. Some of the recent ones like Samsung Omnia vans being parked in front of a launch of Nokia’s Lumia Smart-phone in Bengaluru may even border on ambush marketing.
Youth Centric Campaign
Samsung’s recent campaigns targeting the youth segment with its aptly named Samsung Galaxy Y series might just be the knock out punch Samsung has lined up against an ailing Nokia . The Ad clearly focuses on the feature phone user (a segment Nokia has long held dominance over) and cleverly portrays the future of phones is here and its Smart-phone.
Samsung would lead young people and early adopters into the Smart-phone segment with its range of mouthwatering smart-phones reasonably priced and fully loaded with interesting Android applications. The move will help migrate a large segment of feature phone consumers into the smart-phone category.
Coupled with the attractive new models Samsung has churned out in the feature phone segment, such as Samsung Guru, Samsung Yuva, Samsung Champ and Samsung Duos, Samsung will soon hold Nokia at ransom on both the smart-phone and the feature phone segments.
Samsung has dealt some killer blows to the Nokia dominance in Indian Market and it seems that Nokia is going through what Motorola did in the end of the 90’s. Sluggish response with often weak result. Nokia has however brought in clear focus on its Lumia series and is banking on its clear brand proposition of quality and good hardware technology.
The game is still very much far from over, with Nokia being forced awake from its slumber, it will be an interesting year ahead for Mobile phone enthusiasts and industry watchers , what moves does Nokia have in store to counter Samsung and how will Samsung follow up its much touted Innovative Campaigns and products. Often with technology, the last man standing is the one that innovates the most.