Samsung fans are holding their breath in anticipation of the arrival of Galaxy S4, which is scheduled to be launched this week, although the same may not hit Indian stores till April, or maybe even later. Samsung has been proclaimed as the leader in terms of mobile handset sales last year, with its flagship handset Galaxy S3 having exceeded the annual sales figures of its predecessors. If you consider the Android smartphone market, Samsung seems to have come a long way from its humble start way back in 2009, when it launched the Galaxy series, which was definitely not a show-stopper at that time. Neither the Korean manufacturer nor its rivals in the market would have even imagined at that stage as to how ubiquitous the Galaxy brand would be in the global as well as the Indian market.
It is one of the biggest players to have pulled customers away from under Apple’s nose. It seems to have also used its marketing and branding strategies very carefully, as it has drastically changed the game since it entered the Android phone market in 2009. After the huge success of the Galaxy S3, which was the most selling smartphone device in 2012, consumers as well as critics are awaiting the next iteration of the Galaxy series in terms of the Galaxy S4. Whether Samsung is able maintain that momentum with the Galaxy S4 remains to be seen.
Samsung’s strong marketing is an advantage
Samsung continues to use its cunning marketing sense to create a significant pre-launch hype across the world, including India. However, this time there is more than one factor that may prove to be a hurdle in its path to be number one in sales in 2013. For one, the smartphone device market is growing in India, like the rest of the world, but there may be a huge contribution to those sales figures by devices in the budget handset market (rulers being Micromax, Karbonn and the likes). A study by CMR last year found that over 30% of the market share is held by the budget handset category. Also, non-urban regions are getting included in the smartphone arena as well, and this includes areas where reliable 3G services may need more time to become a reality. Hence, though the size of the Indian smartphone pie is expected to increase significantly, whether the Galaxy S4 can whittle the market by a huge margin needs to be seen.
Other manufacturers also a significant threat
The launch of smarter and more intelligent devices by Samsung’s rivals, like Sony, are a tangible threat to its continued growth in the smartphone market, global as well as domestic. The launch of Sony Xperia Z and HTC One, which come with great technological advancements and innovations, have already begun to gain significant consumer interest, and this might eventually lead a decrease in the Galaxy S4’s chances of sweeping out the market completely. Both these models in questions have some very strong features that can go against the Galaxy S4’s favor.
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Moreover, the launch of iPhone 5S later this summer will almost surely create a frenzy which is sure to lessen the enthusiasm of customers towards Samsung’s Galaxy S4. And this will mostly be the fence-sitters who are neither a diehard fan of either the Galaxy series or the iPhone. And how this particular segment behaves can, to a large extent, determine the fate of other Android players in the Indian market, as well as Samsung’s. Another threat that may be looming on Samsung’s territory is Apple’s decision on launching affordable iPhone variants. Till now, a large segment of the smartphone market has been oscillating away from Apple due to its price positioning, but will this change once the iPhone comes up with more practical options.
The last factor that will affect the Korean manufacturer’s fate is Samsung itself. Most of the questions that consumers want to know about the Galaxy S4 seem to be around how well Samsung has been able to fix the drawbacks of S3, and what new innovations it has brought to the fore this time around. As such, there needs to be a huge gain in terms of design, as well as hardware and software enhancements, if the Galaxy S4 is set to be as huge a success as the SIII was. However, even with all these challenges, if Samsung continues to play its cards well, it will not be very difficult for the Korean manufacturer to maintain its stronghold over the market.