‘GST hasn’t impacted Samsung phone sales’

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 09, 2018

MOHANDEEP SINGH, Senior Vice-President, Mobile Business,Samsung India

Senior Vice-President Mohandeep Singh says firm is open to bundled offerings from telecom operators other than Jio

Samsung India has not seen much of an impact of GST and had maintained status quo on the price of handsets, says Mohandeep Singh, Senior Vice-President, Mobile Business, Samsung India.

In fact, the country’s leading smartphone-maker is also “making for India” with handsets having India-specific features.

In an interview to BusinessLine, Singh shares the impact of GST rollout, the company’s strategy regarding the mid-to-mid-premium segment, competition from Chinese vendors and bundling offers. Excerpts:

What has been the impact of GST on the smartphone segment?

We have not not seen any impact of GST. I think, we will see the benefits in the long term. Post-GST, there has neither been a price increase nor a reduction in number of mobilephones sold.

So what are the factors driving smartphone sales?

Factors such as digital payments and the quality of available network are driving handset sales. Consumers also want to do a lot more with their devices, especially with the data available. As more and more conveniences get build, sales will grow.

How is Samsung positioning itself in the highly competitive mid-to-mid-premium segment with the J series offerings?

One out of every three smartphones that were sold in July in India, was a J series. This kind of acceptability is obviously on account of the various innovations we have brought in. For the first time in a mid-category phone, we brought in Samsung Pay. It was earlier restricted to the A and S series.

With Samsung Pay being introduced in some J7 models, is the brand not compromising premium A and S portfolios?

Why should that be? Every customer must get the technology and the choice to adopt it. Our endeavour should be to popularise Samsung Pay.

Going forward, will Samsung Pay be introduced in the sub-₹15,000 offerings?

As long as hardware capability and development support us... It will be difficult to introduce the offerings at lower price points.

Is this refocus on value-added offerings in the mid-to-mid-premium segment driven by competition from Chinese players?

The offerings are based on what consumers want and not on competition. We have been bringing in India-specific features based on technology. For example, Samsung Pay is available on SBI debit cards. Initially, when we had launched it, it was only on credit cards.

We moved it to debit cards because for India it is much more relevant.

Out attempt is to make for India, with insights based on what Indian consumer wants.

More than the number of models being launched, I believe it is whether these models are cutting ice or not. And we believe we have the right mix of models.

Dealers have complained that Samsung has been refusing to supply stores that give more prominent display to competing Chinese brands. Your comments...

Frankly, it is not the first time we are seeing competition. And we have built our credibility and relationships across channels, distributors, dealers and so on, over the years. We are fairly strongly invested in the off-line channels, so to say. Our focus is also to have very healthy channel relationships so that we can put through the channel requirements. That will continue to be our focus.

Right now, your bundling offers are exclusively with Jio. Are you open to other operators too?

Of course, we will have those. We have had such bundling offers with other telcos in the past. Jio has given an offer across smartphones, and we think it is of value to the consumer.

Published on August 31, 2017

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