Is The Market Share of Google Pixel Phones in India Really Worth the Hype?

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The best of Android and Apple has raised the smartphone standards in the market. Google Pixel and iPhone 7 are giving a tough challenge to the Smartphone leader Samsung in India. According to ET, citing data from Counterpoint, a market research firm, Google Pixel and Pixel XL has captured 10% of premium smartphone market in India within just 17 days of its launch. It is a great achievement for the company given that the Pixel phones are the first ever smartphones launched by Google.

Over 330,000 units of premium smartphones were shipped in India. Counterpoint took into account the premium smartphones with a tag price of INR 30,000 or more for the report.

Apple has also strengthened its position in the Indian smartphone market. Pushing Samsung behind, Apple secured the Numero uno position in the Indian premium smartphone market with 66% share. Samsung slipped to second place with 23% market share. On the other hand, Google shipped 33,000 units of Google Pixel and Pixel XL devices in India. The Pixel phones consequently captured 10% of the Indian market.

Google Pixel Phones: Best Bet Ever from Google!

Google has put its best foot forward with the Pixel phones. It left no stones unturned to capture a sizeable chunk of the Indian smartphone market. Starting with exchange programs, Interest-free EMIs to Cashback; Google did everything to lure the Indian buyers.

Google also invested an undisclosed amount for the online and offline advertisement. The ads were mainly targeted towards the users in Metro and Tier cities of India. Initially, the price tag of INR. 57,000 (US$799) for Google Pixel and Pixel XL was considered a bit higher. However, considering the response to the devices, it is almost evident that people found the phones worth this investment.

Is Google Pixel Really Gaining Grounds?

Google now lists among the top three smartphone vendors in the premium segment in India. Ironically, Google is yet to find acceptance in the market. A thorough evaluation of the preferences and buying habits of those who have bought the Pixel phones can reveal why Google Pixel phones are far from wide acceptance in India.

Analysts believe that Google benefitted largely from the debacle of Samsung Note 7. A huge chunk of people in India was waiting to upgrade to Galaxy Note 7. Their hopes went in vain when news of battery explosions in Note 7 hit the headlines. Samsung had to announce the recall and later stop the entire production of Note 7 before it could be launched in India. As a result, most of the prospective Galaxy Note 7 buyers opted for the Pixel phones. Whether they were looking to upgrade or exchange their old smartphones, Google Pixel and Pixel XL were the best available options in the market. There couldn’t have been better phones to fill up the void that Note 7 created.

Analysts also pointed out another reason; It is quite unlikely that a sizeable number of iPhone users made a shift to Google. Rather, it is possible that few iPhone 6 or iPhone 6s users purchased the Pixel phones to experience the best of both worlds. Albeit, the number of such users is minuscule.

Premium Smartphone Market in India

It is hard to understand if the data mentioned in the Counterpoint Research Report is monthly, quarterly, or yearly. However, taking into account the historical data of overall smartphone shipments in India, the report apparently talks about the monthly shipment scenario. 83.3 million units of smartphones were shipped in India during the first three-quarters of 2016, recording a 17.5% QoQ growth. Our estimation shows that nearly 38 million units of smartphones will be shipped in India during the ongoing fourth quarter of the year, of which a sizable share will be shipped in the month of December alone.

If we put all the above figures together, it’s safe to say that on an average, 10 million units of smartphones are shipped in India on a monthly basis. According to IDC, 71% of these smartphones belong to the sub-$150 category. If we do a simple calculation and factor the data from Counterpoint and IDC, nearly 25.7% of smartphones shipped in India belong to the price range of $151 – $450. Disappointingly, the market of premium segment smartphones is limited to mere 3.3%. Drilling down this data further, Google has apparently captured just 0.3% of the total smartphone shipments in India in October 2016 with Pixel and Pixel XL phones.

Will the Pixel Phones Make a Mark?

Whether it’s Apple, Samsung or Google, it doesn’t matter which company owns the premium segment market in India. We already know that India is a price sensitive market. It is led by smartphone manufacturers that have offerings for an entry-level and mid-range segment. Indian smartphone market is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world and is growing pretty fast. Hence, it would be interesting to see how Google penetrates the smartphone market and make a strong foothold with its Pixel Phones in India.


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