Let’s get one thing straight: no one – NO ONE – in the world sells more smartphones than Samsung does. The Korean electronics behemoth has gone and done what many had thought impossible a decade ago: knocked Nokia off its perch. So before we proceed, we are not going to claim that we know the art of product pricing better than those in Samsung India.
That said, we must confess to feeling just a little bemused by the manner in which many have hailed the company for pricing the Galaxy S7 at Rs 48,900. When I asked a few people why they thought so, they pointed out that the device’s predecessor, the S6, had been launched a year ago at a slightly higher price – Rs 49,900. In fact, most flagships from the likes of HTC, Sony and LG had been priced in the region of Rs 50,000. One person even pointed out that the Moto X Force had recently been launched at a higher price of Rs 49,990, and well, there were the inevitable comparisons with the launch price of the iPhone 6S, which had been launched at above Rs 60,000.
So, well, going by those parameters, Samsung had indeed done well by pricing the S7 at Rs 48,900.
The question, of course, is whether those ARE the parameters that one should be keeping in mind while considering the price of a device, especially in a market that is as notoriously price sensitive as India (yes, we know Apple has bucked that trend but then normal pricing logic does not seem to apply to the Cupertino giant)? Yes, it is indeed lower than the price of the S6 which was launched last year, but a lot has happened in the twelve months since the S6 hit the market.
Most notably, that period has seen the consolidation of what we rather loosely term as the “you can get a darned good phone for a remarkably low price” trend. If you want us to be more specific, let us put it this way – in early 2014, most people believed that it was impossible to get a world class high end device for less than Rs 40,000 at the very least. Today, such devices face a tougher test, and not from everyone’s favourite enemy, the iPhone, but from a whole new breed of Android manufacturers. So much so that when Motorola released the Moto X Style with specs that were similar to the LG G4 at a price in the vicinity of Rs 30,000, it was called expensive by some.
There is fresh competition for high-end, expensive Android phones, and it comes not from Cupertino or Redmond, but from Asia. From the likes of Xiaomi, OnePlus, Asus and Lenovo. As we had mentioned in an earlier article, there had always been lower priced Android devices, but these had come with massive performance and design compromises. But that does not apply to the likes of the Vibe X3, the OnePlus 2 or even the freshly released Mi 5. These devices are well-crafted, boast very good hardware, innovative UI and perform very well indeed. Oh, and they cost much lesser than the flagships from Sony, LG, HTC, and yes, even Samsung. At Rs 24,999, the very well equipped and well designed OnePlus 2 had cost almost half of the Galaxy S6, remember?
No, unlike some, we are not going to get on to a pedestal and start proclaiming the arrival of a new world order, in which relative newcomers will overthrow Samsung. No, the Korean giant has many an ace up its very ample sleeves, most notably a brilliant system of logistics that gives it a massive reach both online and offline. What we are just pointing out – with extreme humility, we reiterate – is that a price tag of Rs 48,900 for an Android phone cannot exactly be called a ‘killer’ price as there is a significant amount of well-equipped competition offering something very similar for a lower price. We want to stress the words “Android phone” here, for where Apple can – and does – charge a massive premium is for its operating system, which is not available on the devices of any other manufacturer. No such restriction exists in Android, which makes Android phone domination more of a spec sheet and design play, notwithstanding the considerable innovation in UIs and overlays from some companies.
Yes, we are delighted that the S7’s starting price is lower than the S6, but we have a feeling that in many rival companies, there would have been sighs of relief that Samsung has not abandoned its “high priced flagship” model. And it is with them that Samsung needs to compete in the coming days.