NEW DELHI: In nearly four years of its existence, Google never made it to the big premium smartphone league in India – the second-most competitive market in the world after China – which is ruled by the likes of Apple, Samsung and OnePlus.

The abrupt decision not to release new Pixel 4 and XL smartphones in the country does not make sense for the company – at a time when consumer spending is only growing in the country and smartphone industry is set to witness record festive sales this year despite the economic slowdown.

It is true that Google Pixel has dismal sales numbers in India and is now focusing more on the US and European markets where there is vacuum in the premium segment. However, it is not that Google Pixel has no room left to grow in the premium smartphone segment in the country.

Look at Apple and you will realize the aspiration to own a premium smartphone is only increasing across age groups. The new iPhone 11 series was sold out within no time. Apple is set to see a bumper quarter after some lacklustre quarters. The truth is: The Cupertino-based tech giant never gave up on the country.

Samsung is seeing great momentum not only for its new Galaxy S and Note series but also for the super-premium Rs 1.65 lakh “Galaxy Fold” that was sold within minutes of the opening of pre-booking window.

The new OnePLus 7T and 7T Pro are also seeing great uptick.

The Indian premium smartphone market, though extremely hyper-competitive, does offer plenty of headroom for players to, in fact, vie for the pie.

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“With the iPhone XR, Apple’s top-selling iPhone, and the all-new iPhone 11, and company-owned retail stores in the offing, Apple has become more aggressive in India than ever before. Other premium brands, including Samsung and OnePlus, have been pretty focused on expanding their premium market share,” said Prabhu Ram, Head-Industry Intelligence Group (IIG), CyberMedia Research (CMR).

“That said, Google was never a major smartphone contender in India. Period,” he added.

Historically, Google has faltered in India with its Pixel series due to a rather weak go-to-market strategy that resulted in poor consumer interest.

In a statement, the company said it has decided not to make Pixel 4 available in the country. “We remain committed to our current Pixel phones and look forward to bringing future Pixel devices to India,” a Google spokesperson said.

Leaving the battlefield mid-way has never been a wise decision for any smartphone company, especially the one with a sold brand presence. Google may need to have another look at India – not from a blurry, pixelated point of view.





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