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Flipkart or Amazon: Who'd Win the Smartphone War? As Amazon and Flipkart gear up for another discount war, Xiaomi and Samsung will battle it out for smartphone supremacy.

By Debroop Roy

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As e-commerce giants Amazon India and Flipkart gear up for another round of discount wars starting Sunday, there are smaller battles being fought on their turf. Both companies have come up with steep discounts for smartphones from different brands including the likes of Samsung, Xiaomi and Vivo.

This comes at a time when both premium and budget smartphone makers are trying to capture a larger share in India, the second-largest smartphone market globally. According to consumer data company Statista, the number of smartphones in India will more than double between 2017 and 2022, reaching a staggering 829 million.

Samsung vs Xiaomi: Eyeing the Top Spot

Counterpoint, a tech research firm, found that Xiaomi and Samsung held the top two spots in terms of market share, by the end of the second quarter of 2019. Since its launch in India in 2014, China-based Xiaomi has quickly turned popular in the country for its budget smartphones, with a 28% share of shipments in the June quarter. Samsung's share, in comparison, was 25%.

A quick look at Amazon India's website, which offers a peek into its "Great Indian Sale", shows both these brands, among others, are looking to cash in on eagle-eyed customers waiting to buy their next smartphone during the sale. Xiaomi's Redmi 7 is being offered at a discount of INR 3,000 while Samsung's Galaxy M10s, priced at INR 8,999, is slated to have a flash sale every four hours.

OnePlus to Take the Premium Smartphone Pie?

In the premium segment, another Chinese company has been getting the better of South Korea-based Samsung. OnePlus, which recently launched its OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 7 Pro smartphones, will make its latest in the series--the OnePlus 7T priced at INR 37,999--available on Amazon.

Launch of the OnePlus 7 series had helped the brand widen the gap with Samsung in the last quarter, Counterpoint's data showed. It recorded its highest ever quarterly share of shipments at 43% of all premium smartphone sales compared with Samsung's 22%.

To perhaps provide a stiff challenge to the new OnePlus smartphone, there are steep discounts on certain models of Samsung and Apple. Samsung's S9 Plus, originally priced at INR 70,000, is likely to be available at less than half that cost on Flipkart.

While Prime members on Amazon--who get additional benefits such as free one-day delivery and access to Prime Video--get to buy Apple's iPhone XR for nearly INR 10,000 less than what it would cost if one bought it later. The iPhone offer is touted to be available only on Saturday, exclusive to those with an Amazon Prime membership.

Who Could Win the Discount War?

In the second quarter, Flipkart was the overwhelming choice of Indians to buy smartphones online, according to Counterpoint. Flipkart accounted for 58% of all online smartphone sales in the three months ended June with Amazon a distant second at 29%. Among smartphone makers, Xiaomi once again emerged the leader and accounted for 46% of sales in the online segment in the quarter.

With e-commerce behemoths and smartphone makers trying to one up each other in this game of big discounts, expect five days of delight for the Indian consumer.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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