Google Pixel, Alphabet’s latest entrant in the luxury end of the smartphone world, is off to a flying start in India. According to research firm Counterpoint, Google Pixel, launched on October 25 in India, has already captured 10% of the premium smartphone market.
Source: Economic Times
Apple is still the leader of the segment with 66% market share, followed by Samsung at 23%. Google’s generous discounts, along with an exchange program that ran on one of India’s leading e-commerce portals, Flipkart, and their aggressive marketing strategy has helped the company’s new flagship product post strong numbers in a short period time. What also helped was the timing of the launch, which coincided with one of the most important festival seasons in India, a time when consumers are enthusiastic about opening their wallets.
“Google seems to be working very hard on marketing the Pixel. It has placed billboards in different cities and airports, and is even holding social media influencer events to create a buzz on social networks. In addition, numerous big kiosks have been placed in shopping malls for people to experience the phone first hand. The offline approach seems to be paying off as Google is scoring points in the premium market”, wrote HuffPost India.
Now the question will be, can Google sustain the momentum it achieved during this short period of time? If it can, it will go a long way in cementing their position close to the top of the premium smartphone segment in India. If recent statistics are anything to go by, the high end of the smartphone segment is the only place where smartphone manufacturers are able to make some profits. Apple and Samsung are the loners when its comes to being profitable smartphone manufacturers as the competition and costs involved is killing everybody else.
It’s only natural, therefore, that Google would position the Pixel at the high end price point of the smartphone market – the same segment where iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S7 models are fighting for supremacy. At this point, taking the fight to the top dogs in the market looks like a much more profitable one than the “go low, die slow” route that most smartphone makers are now stuck in.
Obviously, Google isn’t going to indefinitely keep deeply discounting its phones for the India market – or any market for that matter. This is obviously coming out of their marketing budget, which was expected to run into “hundreds of millions” of dollars, according to marketing experts (see related article below.)
Their strategy is sound: spend heavily on promoting the product using deep discounts, large-scale advertising media, getting the consumer’s attention and get the phones as quickly into as many hands as possible…and then pull back and see what sticks. That’s what we’re assuming the company will eventually do but, obviously, it might be some time before their marketing budget runs dry.
What’s important to remember is that this is NOT one of Alphabet’s moonshots. It is absolutely their biggest chance to generate a strong revenue stream from anything other than advertising, and it is definitely their LAST chance to make a dent in the smartphone market. And, as a ‘do or die’ product, it’s reasonable to assume that Google will put all its heft and effort behind making this work – and clearly, it’s starting to happen.
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