Closing The Gap: Samsung vs Apple Pricing Strategy

Closing The Gap: Samsung vs Apple Pricing Strategy
By Neil Shah

Samsung announced 2015’s latest flagship models the Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on 1st March 2015. Samsung aims to arrest its slipping share in smartphone segment and especially premium smartphone segment against Apple’s flagship duo iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus which propelled Apple ahead of Samsung in Q4 2014 to become the largest smartphone brand in terms of market share and value share globally.

This was mainly due to couple of reasons, firstly, Apple upgraded is small screen 4.0″ iPhone form-factor to a bigger screen size with 4.7″ iPhone 6 & 5.5″ iPhone 6 Plus respectively, and, secondly, Samsung’s multi-million seller flagship for 2014 the Galaxy S5 was a disappointment and was out-competed by Apple’s flagship models. However, Samsung hopes to regain momentum with its Galaxy S6 flagship this year, and, Samsung has done so radical changes to design making it more attractive with a unibody, double glass covered metallic form-factor. Additionally, Samsung also brought its vertical expertise adding beveled edges (as in Note Edge) but on both sides (for left hand as well as right handed users) to the S6 and launching it as a more premium model Galaxy S6 Edge. So like Apple, Samsung has also debuted duo flagship models. The questions we were repeatedly asked on the pricing differentials between the two models & multiple SKUs for S6 & S6 Edge and it was per we estimated and the pricing strategy closely mirrors of that between iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus.

We have taken its latest announced pricing in one of the open market such as India as a benchmark and compared the pricing strategies between Apple & Samsung:

1. Overall Pricing Strategy

Similar to Apple, Samsung models in open/prepaid markets such as India starts at a pretty high retail ASP leveraging its brand premium, design, engineering and cutting edge specs.Galaxy S6 models have been priced cheaper than iPhone 6 models atleast by 10-15%, however, it gets interesting what is happening at SKU level and the amount of premium being charged between different SKUs.

  • The above pricing suggests there is a tight overlap between iPhone 6 & Galaxy S6 Edge
  • The most popular model for iPhone 6 i.e. iPhone 6 64GB with Galaxy S6 edge 64GB are actually positioned head-on and not the basic Samsung Galaxy S6
  • This signals Galaxy S6 Edge 64GB could be the most popular model in subsidized postpaid market
  • Samsung going with 32GB S6 Edge would be fairly popular in open prepaid market compared to iPhone 6 16GB
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge 128GB is cheaper than iPhone 6 Plus 64GB and iPhone 6 128GB, so this might maximize profits for Samsung especially from Android upgraders as well as iPhone switchers

2. Premium Charging Strategy

2.1 Memory

Samsung has gone with a unibody design and hence no expandable memory slot is available similar to Apple iPhones. This will allow Samsung to charge a significant premium than ever before and even push its flagship ASP higher than before. The following table and chart depicts the premium Apple & Samsung is charging for the higher memory configurations to the base 16GB / 32GB version respectively.

  • Surprisingly, Samsung is charging lowest premium among these four flagships for the premium Galaxy S6 Edge model, even lower than the less premium Galaxy S6 without edge in terms of %
  • The overall premium % charged between Samsung & Apple is not huge, however, in dollar terms there is a good chunk going to Apple directly towards its bottom line
  • These configurations should help Samsung improve its revenues as well as profits and doesn’t look that expensive compared to iPhone

2.2 Display

So again some parity with dual flagship models between Apple & Samsung by charging premium over the display. However, the difference here is that while Samsung charges a premium for a sexy, innovative double edge-curved display allowing a new set of experience whereas Apple using its brand equity is able to charge a significant premium just for a larger form-factor.

  • Apple charges $144 for a larger display on iPhone 6 Plus against iPhone 6 which corresponds to a maximum of 16% more premium
  • Surprisingly, Samsung also charges $144 but for the Edge display also corresponds to maximum of 16% more premium over the standard Galaxy S6
  • Also, surprising to see most of the premium pricing charged by Apple is $144 over each SKU

It is interesting to see how these two rivals’ portfolios and pricing strategy is toe-to-toe now and if Samsung can replicate the performance as successfully as Apple with an almost similar pricing and positioning strategy. All eyes are on Galaxy S6 series whether it can revive Samsung’s dipping fortunes and strengthen its premium halo devices’ positioning against insurgent Chinese brands’ affordable flagships and Apple’s iPhone 6 series.


December 19, 2015 / by / in , , , ,

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