Last year for the second quarter, Samsung reported a decrease in earnings for its mobile business blaming ‘weak seasonality’ and lower than expected sales of the Galaxy S9, its flagships series. While Samsung never revealed the individual sales numbers for the Galaxy S9 units, it was speculated that these were the lowest ever since the Galaxy S3 was introduced. But it looks like the Galaxy S10 series, with its new punch-hole ‘Infinity-O’ display and triple cameras, has been able to redeem the flagship fortunes of the Korean tech giant.
Galaxy S10 wins in a losing premium market
The success of the Galaxy S10 comes at a crucial time for Samsung, given the premium smartphone market has declined drastically. Counterpoint Research reported that the premium smartphone market (phones priced $400 and above) fell by 8 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019 with Apple seeing the highest fall at 20 per cent.
Samsung managed to do a lot better with 25 per cent market share in this segment and this success was driven by the Galaxy S10. According to Korea’s Yonhap news agency, which quoted Counterpoint Research’s latest numbers, the Galaxy S10 series had sales that were 12 per cent higher than the S9 globally.
The report adds that research from Counterpoint showed that Samsung managed to sell 16 million units of the Galaxy S10 in the months of March and May. More importantly the sales were driven by the bigger Galaxy S10+ accounting for 42 per cent of the flagship series’ sales through May, followed by the Galaxy S10 with 32 per cent and Galaxy S10e at 22 per cent.
Galaxy S10 success in India
The Galaxy S10 phones have also helped the brand regain the top spot in the premium segment of the Indian smartphone market, ahead of rivals like OnePlus and Apple. According to Tarun Pathak, Associate Director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, “The initial uptake for the Galaxy S10 series drove Samsung to the leadership position in the premium segment. The India launch of the Galaxy S10 series came soon after the global release.”
In an emailed response to indianexpress.com, Pathak pointed out that the Galaxy S10 series had features like “multiple camera sensors with ultra-wide photography, Infinity-O display, ultrasonic fingerprint scanner, wireless power share,” which helped it stand out.
Asked which models of the S10 were delivering for Samsung, Pathak pointed out that the India trend was similar to the global one with S10 Plus performing better than S10 followed by S10e.
Samsung’s success with the Galaxy S10 has also been noted by other research firms like IDC. “Samsung surpassed Apple for the leadership position in the premium (US$500+) segment with an overall share of 36 per cent in 1Q19 due to its newly launched Galaxy S10 flagship series that was supported by huge marketing campaigns,” explained Upsansa Joshi Associate Research Manager – Client Devices, IDC India in an emailed response. However, she cautioned that it was too early to comment on the performance between Galaxy S9 series and S10 series as the second quarter results are not yet out.
IDC’s analyst also said that the Galaxy S10+ was the fastest selling in the first quarter of 2019 among the three launches that were done by the company, thus continuing the trend observed by others. She also points out that in India Samsung had some attractive pre-booking deals on the S10 including Galaxy buds and the Galaxy Watch being clubbed at “very attractive bundle pricing”.
Loyalty exchange offers and schemes, especially for consumers having previous generation Galaxy S series models helped boost sales, according to her. But does Samsung also benefit in the premium segment in India because Apple’s iPhone XS has become too expensive.
Joshi believes Android and iOS users are very different. “iOS has more aspirational buyers but with the current pricing it is getting out of reach for many existing and new buyers as well. Apple currently has less than 2 per cent overall share in India market, clearly depicting a super niche that brand has created for itself,” she explains.
In Android, the maximum appeal comes for Samsung and OnePlus branded phones currently with middling demand for the remaining brands and models,” Joshi added.
Galaxy S10 more features, more models
With the Galaxy S10, Samsung also introduced several new features and a lot more models. Instead of the two phones that we had seen the company launch, Galaxy S10 phones came in four models: the Galaxy S10e was the budget offering though it had dual-cameras at the back, a feature which users expect in premium phones now. There was the regular Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ and both had triple cameras. However, the Galaxy S10+ came with dual-front cameras.
The triple camera was made standard on the S10 and S10+ with the ultra-wide angle sensor being added to the list. Samsung also introduced features like wireless power sharing to let users charge other devices with their Galaxy S10 phones, including the wearables like Galaxy Bud. This was already being offered by rival Huawei with its P30 Pro. More importantly, the ‘Infinity-O’ display gave the Galaxy S10 series a completely new design compared to the S9.
Samsung also introduced a Galaxy S10 5G variant launched in markets like South Korea. This future-ready 5G variant of Galaxy S10 has managed to sell one million units within 80 days of the phone being introduced in the company’s home market. Clearly, Samsung’s bit bet on launching a 5G-ready phone also paid off.