It started just a year-and-a-half ago in May 2018 as an offshoot of Chinese smartphone maker Oppo with an aim to provide the latest smartphone technology at an affordable price. Today, the ambitious smartphone brand is on its way to become one of the biggest smartphone brands in the world. In fact, it is currently the fastest growing smartphone brand in the world. The brand in question is Realme.
In a market whose dynamics change every quarter, Realme has stood out to be a very successful brand. The subsidiary brand that spun out of Oppo currently commands 14.3% of the world's second largest market, India, in the quarter ending September 2019, according to a report released Monday by research firm IDC.
While Xiaomi continues to further extend its lead from Samsung as the No.1 smartphone brand in the country with a market share of 27.1% in the same quarter, Realme has seen the most growth in terms of shipment. The company showed a 401.3% growth in terms of the volume of handsets shipped compared to the same period last year. The company has now managed to climb up to the 4th position in Q3 2019, a rank higher than Oppo, the very company it branched out from.
"The continued aggression by the online platforms with attractive cashback and buyback offers as well as affordability schemes like No Cost EMIs and financing options were key in taking the share of the online channel to a record high of 45.4% with YoY growth of 28.3%," says Upasana Joshi, Associate Research Manager, Client Devices, IDC India.
Ironically, Realme seems to be replicating the same model that Xiaomi applied with its Redmi brand about three years ago when the company started gaining some traction in the Indian market. Xiaomi began with what could be termed "humble beginnings," selling their phones initially through online channels such as Flipkart and Amazon and their own Mi.com to cut overhead cost and then slowly moving to brick and mortar stores after tasting success.
Realme, too, adopted the same business model. And it seems to have paid off very well. In fact, it wouldn't be wrong to say that "Realme is now the new Redmi." Although, Xiaomi has its own physical Mi Home stores in more than 200 major cities and "Xiaomi Preferred Partner" stores in smaller towns and villages in India, Realme has only started selling offline since last quarter and through local smartphone vendors.
A big chunk of Realme's sales figures came from online-only shipments, where it's market share increased 26.5% percent in the third quarter of 2019, up from 16.5% in the previous quarter, according to the report. What seems to have worked for Realme is the fact that the company has launched nearly a dozen of smartphones in the price band ranging from INR 6,000 to INR 15,000 (approx. $80 - $200) which is the most competitive price range in the Indian smartphone market.
The IDC report details the Realme C2, Realme 3 and Realme 3i, all priced under $150, as the top-selling phones for the company during the quarter. However, Realme is not a popular brand just in India. The company operates in 17 other countries, including China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Vietnam, Egypt and it even ventured into the European market in May this year.
Realme's mantra is simple, the brand aims to sell the best hardware at a price which does not burn a big hole in the average consumers pocket. The Realme smartphone range starts with the Realme C2 which starts at approx $80 and the phone had all the modern features like a large 6" plus dew-drop notch style display, a dual 13MP+2MP rear camera setup and a reasonably good chipset for the asking price.
With up-to-date feature sets and a price that's light on the pocket, Realme has managed to climb up the ranks from rank 47 globally in Q3 last year to the 7th in the same quarter this year, according to data from CounterPoint. Realme is now at a position where it could soon start aiming for the big league, unless we see another radically different smartphone brand emerge from in the market and hinder it's phenomenal growth.