Here's something we didn't see coming: OnePlus just sold more high-end phones than Samsung in India. According to Counterpoint Research, OnePlus was the top-selling manufacturer in the flagship segment (₹30,000+, or $435+) in India for Q2 2018, hitting an all-time high of 40% market share. Adding to the surprise is that this is data for the entire quarter (April, May, June) where the OnePlus 6 was only on sale since mid-May compared to Samsung's Galaxy S9 and S9+ launching in March.
This is the first time OnePlus has ever topped the premium segment in India, and it was aided in its gains by a precipitous drop-off of sales from Samsung and Apple in the quarter — hitting 34% and 14%, respectively. Counterpoint Research notes that fresh entries from Huawei, Vivo, Nokia and LG also mixed up the market and stole small slices. Interestingly, OnePlus hit this all-time-high mark of 40% market share thanks to OnePlus 5T sales making up 10 percentage points of the 40, all coming in the first half of Q2 before it was shelved for the OnePlus 6 launch.
The value-focused flagship model is the best way to sell phones in India.
OnePlus has been incredibly strong in India thanks to its value-focused flagship model, which places it in the "premium" tier in terms of market segmentation but gives it a massive advantage in terms of consumer pricing. The OnePlus 6 starts around ₹35,000 in India, compared to a Galaxy S9+ that starts around ₹60,000. That surely contributed to the sales numbers we see here — price is a massive factor in the Indian market, where sales skew far less expensive than Western countries, so the difference of 25% in MSRP between the OnePlus 6 and Galaxy S9+ is incredibly important. Despite the win for OnePlus, Samsung is still easily the largest smartphone brand in India with 29% of the total market — OnePlus isn't even in the top five, as it only sells relatively expensive phones.
Regardless of the overall position, OnePlus will no doubt take this as a huge win for the growing strength of its brand even in a market it was already incredibly well established in, and look to repeat the feat in other markets globally. Though that will be a far tougher task elsewhere as Samsung holds a dominant position in so many markets where price and value are far less important.