Realme sees India smartphone market stalling, but confident it won't stop growing
Realme is confident that despite the overall smartphone market in India being stagnant, their brand will continue to grow. CEO Madhav Sheth told indianexpress.com that in smartphone markets globally, a slowdown has set in and even in India the market is growing at just about pace of three to five per cent. “But as far as Realme is concerned, I don’t see any challenges. We are still expanding,” he said on the sidelines of the Realme 5 series launch earlier this week.
Sheth pointed to the IDC and Counterpoint numbers, which have highlighted Realme’s explosive growth in India. IDC numbers showed Realme’s shipments stood at 2.8 million in the second quarter of 2019, making it the number five player in the market with 602 per cent growth. According to Counterpoint, Realme had 9 per cent share in the top five brands and was the fastest brand to reach 8 million smartphone shipments in India market.
Sheth said that the Indian smartphone market growth will be not that big. But at the same time he said in relation to Realme: “I don’t see any challenges as far as volume is concerned.”
Realme also revealed at the launch that the brand now has 10 million active users in India alone, a feat that Sheth says has been achieved by very few brands globally in such a short span of time. “I think Realme has been well accepted by people and the response to Realme X shows that despite being a 14 months old brand people have accepted Rs 20,000 phone from us,” he pointed out.
One reason for Realme’s growth has also been the number of phones the brand has launched in 2019 alone. The Realme 3 was launched in March 2019, followed quickly by the Realme 3 Pro and budget friendly Realme C2 in April. Realme X, which has a new full-screen design and pop-up selfie camera, launched in July, and there was another Realme 3i variant as well.
Now, just three months after the Realme 3 first launched, the branded has upgraded both phones with new Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro devices, which come with a quad-camera set up at the back. This also makes Realme the first brand to offer quad-cameras at under Rs 15,000.
Realme has also expanded in the offline segment from January 2019. But as Sheth explains they are taking a non-traditional approach here. “We know offline is more on the capital intensive side and you need heavy margins for the offline dealers. We have not done that and have gone with a lean margin lean structure,” Sheth said.
The strategy appears to be inspired by Xiaomi, which has also talked of a similar approach in the offline segment by trying to in this segment.
Sheth also points out that the brand views offline as a strategy for users to get a hands-on experience. “Our offline strategy is not that much sales, but more about touch and feel experience,” he said, adding that it helps buyers compare as well before they decide to buy.
At the Realme 5 event, Sheth also announced that the company will call its upcoming 64MP quad-camera phone as Realme XT. The phone will launch in India before the end of September. The announcement comes even as Xiaomi is getting ready to announce its Redmi Note 8 Pro, which will have a similar 64MP quad-camera set up at the back. That phone is expected to come to India by the fourth quarter of 2019.