Xiaomi and Realme are at odds with each other in India, the fastest growing smartphone market in the world. Realme started operations in India last year as a sub-brand of Oppo before becoming an independent entity. The company has basically replicated Xiaomi’s playbook by offering competitive hardware at an affordable price. The strategy has helped Realme become the fourth largest smartphone brand in the country within just six months, and it is expected to enter the top-three rank as early as next quarter.
While Xiaomi and Realme are competing for leadership in the mid-range smartphone segment, the company CEOs are engaging in an ugly war of words. In an interview with ET, Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth claims that Xiaomi, the top smartphone maker in the country, is insecure of the newcomer’s success in the market. Sheth made that claim in reaction to a tweet by Manu Kumar Jain, Managing Director of Xiaomi India, which said that Redmi Note 7 is better than Realme 3 Pro. Sheth had tweeted “someone is afraid” in response to that tweet.
In the tweet, Jain had pointed out that Redmi Note 7 Pro used a newer Snapdragon 675 processor while Realme 3 Pro used older Snapdragon 710 platform. “We never commented on their (Xiaomi’s) device. We commented on their desperation and insecurities, rather than a product. Being the number one brand, you are trying to fight a brand which is just emerging. I can sense that you are insecure,” Sheth told ET. “You (Xiaomi) keep proving that the 6-series chipset is better than 7 series, and putting entire energy into that, rather going for user experience,” he added.
The battle between Xiaomi and Realme is now transforming into an ugly war of words between Xiaomi India head Manu Jain and Realme India CEO Madhav Sheth. Realme’s fortunes have been growing, and the company became the first to sell 6 million devices since its entry last May. Xiaomi, on the other hand, has been growing in India but its smartphone sales have declined significantly in its home market. The Chinese smartphone has also been trying to pivot into other business verticals including smart connected devices.
Watch: Realme 3 First Look
“It is prudent that Xiaomi, as the market leader, is aware and wary of Realme’s growth. As Realme starts expanding its offline reach in 2019, Xiaomi would have to redraw its market strategies to stay on top,” Prabhu Ram, head – industry intelligence group at CMR, told ET.
Xiaomi, which is the market leader in the online smartphone retail segment, is now trying to expand sales via offline channels. Realme, which began operations just last year, has also set its sights on the offline market and both the companies are aggressively looking to expand their brick-and-mortar stores and third-party retail channels. Realme is a credible threat to Xiaomi in India, but the fight could get even uglier as they battle to win attention of millennial through their social media savvy tech executives.