It may still be considered as ‘yet another Chinese brand’, but Oppo’s growth in the Indian smartphone market has been nothing short of monumental. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons for its popularity in the country is Oppo’s incredibly-strong presence in the offline market. While there’s no denying the fact that online shopping is the future, a large chunk of consumers in India still prefer buying smartphones from brick-and-mortar stores. The reason for that is simple – smartphones don’t come cheap – and customers are far more comfortable in buying a device that they can see and experience in a store first, than one that they can only order online.
Realme: An online-only brand
This is why many were surprised when in May 2018, Oppo unveiled the Realme 1, the first smartphone under its newly-created online-only brand. Fast forward to August, and the Realme 2 was launched, less than a month after Realme split from Oppo and became a separate company, with former Oppo VP Sky Li spearheading the new brand.
The past few months have been quite busy for the three-month old Realme. However, it seems the new kid on the block is all geared up to take on established online-only smartphone brands like Huawei’s Honor and Xiaomi’s recently-launched Poco.
During a visit to the Realme factory in Greater Noida, we saw Realme smartphones being churned out at a breakneck pace. We also had a chance to check out the many QC (quality control) measures that the company takes to ensure all Realme units are free from any defects and issues. Given the scale of the production, it became immediately clear to us that this nascent brand has big aspirations for the Indian smartphone market, which is getting increasingly competitive with each day.
Talking about the production capabilities, we were told that based on current output, the plant can churn out approximately 80 million handsets a year. For the upcoming festive season, the company is targeting the production of 2.5 million smartphones to keep up with the increased demand.
Watch: How Realme smartphones are made
Even though Realme 2 is their current latest and greatest, the company said it has no plans to discontinue Realme 1, which will continue to be produced alongside its successor.
Talking to BGR India about the ‘online-only’ concept, Realme India’s CEO Madhav Sheth said that the company will “..touch all the points where it can reach their consumers, but they don’t want to rush anything.”
“If the consumers are present offline in tier-3 and tier-4 cities, where online presence is little, maybe we’ll reach for offline channels,” added Sheth.
Madhav Sheth further told us that Realme is all about offering consumers smartphones that have better specs than the competition, at similar or lower price points. He added that customers should compare Realme smartphones spec-by-spec with the competition, and then decide where they’ll be getting maximum value for their money.
The company CEO was also quite enthusiastic about customers’ response to Realme so far, mentioning how 3.7 lakh units of Realme 2 smartphones had been sold during the last two flash sales.
All said, it’s important to know that just having a great smartphone line-up isn’t enough. Those products should also be backed by an efficient service network, so that customers don’t have to run from pillar to post in case things go awry. Realme realizes this, which is why the company told BGR India that very soon, it would be launching its own chain of service centres. The first Realme-branded service centre will come up in New Delhi.
While Realme’s success (so far) in the Indian smartphone market is indeed great, this young company already has its work cut out for itself. And with competing sub-brands launching smartphones with top-tier hardware at ridiculously-low prices, the road ahead for Realme is definitely going to be challenging.