The Apple-Samsung rivalry is well-publicised thanks to the litany of court cases between the two. In fact, it's so popular, the iOS vs Android debate is often diluted down to one about Apple and Samsung. So it is only natural that Samsung would want to respond to Apple’s marketing step-up with its own big push.

For the past month or two, Apple has been taking out large front-page advertisements in leading Indian dailies, urging readers to swap in their old smartphones for a discount on the iPhone 4, 4S and 5. The Cupertino company has also been advertising heavily about the various equated monthly installment (EMI) schemes for the last three generations of the iPhone.

On cue, Samsung yesterday brought out a massive front page ad in a leading Indian daily. The Korean company’s ad offers a bigger ‘cash back’ percentage (up to Rs 5,668) than Apple till April 30. The offer also gives potential customers attractive options for any of the several high-end and mid-range Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy Note 800 and the Galaxy Camera on EMI schemes.

These two advertisements were both out on the same day on two widely-read publications

These two advertisements were both out on the same day on two widely read publications

Samsung’s advertisement is geared towards selling its new Galaxy Grand smartphone harder. Apple stuck to the popular but slightly outdated iPhone 4 in the most recent front-page ad, with the iPhone 5 occupying the front-inside page. The American smartphone maker is also offering attractive 6-month and 12-month EMI schemes for the latest iPhone 5.

It is not surprising to see Samsung taking aim at Apple’s flagship with the Galaxy Grand. After all, the two smartphones are two of the most popular handsets in the market right now. The Galaxy Grand matches Samsung’s own Galaxy Note 2 in terms of sales; an average of three units are being sold every day. The iPhone 5 is no slouch either; it has a similar number of takers as the two Samsung phones, but the demand peaks in phases.

Perhaps being a bit too tongue-in-cheek, Samsung has tied up with the same bank (besides one other bank) for the cash-back scheme as Apple, giving customers of those banks an alternative smartphone.

Secondly, while Apple offers a maximum of 5 percent cash back on credit card purchases, Samsung is giving potential customers a whopping 15 percent back. And where Apple’s offer expires in the next three days, Samsung’s continues till April 30th.

Apple’s big advertising campaign in recent months is part of the company’s attempt to grab more of the smartphone market in India. Long considered a luxury brand, the company has been changing its tune in recent months with the advertisements, which make it sound less lofty and more accessible. According to Canalys, iPhone shipments to India between October and December 2012 nearly tripled to 250,000 units from 90,000 after Apple added two distributors to its India effort.

While sales have been steady, Samsung’s advertising salvo could disrupt the status quo. The Galaxy Grand is a low-cost alternative to the iPhone 5 and brings everything one normally expects to see in a high-end phone, such as a large display, dual-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera. That and the fact that its software is on par with last year's flagship Galaxy S3 makes it a very attractive proposition. Samsung’s bait of the bigger cash back and discount could just hook more fish than Apple’s.

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