Samsung expands online smartphone range in India to woo holiday shoppers

A customer prays inside a Samsung showroom in New Delhi

By Sankalp Phartiyal

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is expanding its online-only smartphone range, a senior company executive said on Thursday, as the South Korean tech giant hopes to win over new customers in India's festive season sales.

Samsung will launch the new India-made Galaxy F range of smartphones at Walmart Inc-controlled online retailer Flipkart on Oct. 8, Asim Warsi, a Senior Vice President and Head of e-commerce Business at Samsung India, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.

"The series is aimed to address the burgeoning demand among the young online shoppers in India," Warsi said.

Indian customers make big-ticket purchases of everything from gold to cars and electronics in the holiday season, which typically begins around October and lasts until the end of the year.

"We are building up for a very buoyant and a very strong festive sales period this year and by virtue of that our exit market share in the overall online space would be in excess of 30% at the turn of the year," said Warsi.

The F series, priced between $200 to $250 will only be sold online through Flipkart and Samsung own website, Warsi added.

Samsung, once an unrivalled leader in the world's second-biggest smartphone market, began losing customers to Chinese rivals led by Xiaomi Corp about three years ago, as their devices were seen as better value for money.

But Samsung has since launched budget smartphones in India, its biggest revenue market after the United States, with longer-lasting batteries and high-resolution cameras in a bid to woo customers, especially those who shop online.

That range, and a tide of anti-Chinese sentiment in India, has helped Samsung jump to the No. 2 spot with 26% market share in the second quarter to June behind Xiaomi's 29%, according to Hong Kong-based tech researcher Counterpoint.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Robert Birsel)