With 600% growth, Realme has left its smartphone rivals behind by a mile in India

Really, Realme?
Really, Realme?
Image: Realme
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A Chinese smartphone brand has grown seven-fold in India over the past year—and no, it’s not Xiaomi.

Realme, a company launched by former senior Oppo executive Sky Li last year, came out with its first smartphone in India in May 2018 as an Oppo sub-brand. In a couple months, it was spun off into a standalone entity. More than a year on, the Shenzhen-based manufacturer has found many takers in the subcontinent.

In the quarter ended June 2018, it sold just 400,000 handsets, according to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) tracker. In the same period this year, its shipments skyrocketed by over 600% to surpass 2.8 million.

The next fastest-growing smartphone brand, the BKK-Electronics owned Oppo, saw shipments grow by a far lower 41%.

In absolute numbers, Beijing-based Xiaomi remains the leader, capturing over 28% of the market. However, its share has slipped since last year, while Realme has expanded from 1.2% to 7.7%.

Realme’s play

India’s smartphone market will continue its growth even as the top few brands consolidate, expects Navkendar Singh, research director of client devices & IPDS at IDC India. “This will make it much more challenging for smaller players to find niches of growth,” he said. Especially as online retailers go hard with new launches and price reductions leading up to the festive season in October.

“We will also see a much more competitive offline market play going forward, with all the major brands fighting for limited shelf space, which will make the retail channel very critical for any brand’s success,” Singh added.

Although Realme is still much smaller than its rivals, it seems to be ticking all the right boxes already. It clocked multifold growth on the back of “newly launched model C2 and 3/3Pro series,” IDC India noted. “The vendor was second in the online channel with 16.5% market share in Q219 (April-June 2019), along with ongoing efforts for expansion in the offline channel which accounted for 21% of its shipments in Q219.”

Realme’s devices, costing between Rs8,690 and Rs16,999 (between $123 and $240), are placed in the most sought-after price bands in the country. This, while the average selling price in the market stands at $159 and with 78% of the handsets in the market priced below $200, IDC data show. The fastest growing segment was between $200 and $300 due to “demand from customers looking to upgrade, additionally fueled by China-based brands which are bringing innovations and flagship like design language at mid-price segments,” the market research firm said.