Photo Credit: Realme
Realme, the Chinese smartphone maker that started its India journey in May 2018 and gained popularity by bringing affordable smartphones targeted at young customers, is moving beyond just the smartphone market in the country and will launch its range of connected devices. The first device in the same bid – Realme Band – was introduced in the country on Thursday and the company will add more in the second quarter of this year, a company executive told Gadgets 360.
The Realme lineup will include audio devices, wearables, smartwatches, and smart TVs. Realme is also in plans to bring its first offline-focussed series of smartphones that are specifically designed for customers purchasing products through brick-and-mortar stores in the country.
“IoT is going to be our next business growth in India,” said Madhav Sheth, India CEO, Realme, in a telephonic conversation with Gadgets 360.
Realme kicked off its new IoT-centric developments in India by unveiling the Realme Band as its first fitness band -- a competitor to the likes of Honor Band 5i and Xiaomi's Mi Band 4. The Shenzhen-headquartered company also released the Realme Link app that will serve as a platform for its connected devices.
However, Realme is not planning to limit its presence to just the wearables segment alone. The company, which was initially a sub-brand of Oppo, is in fact, aiming to release multiple devices across segments to grab a bigger pie of the consumer IoT market in the coming months.
“Our objective is to bring the IoT pillars, which will be the key connectors with the smartphones,” Sheth told Gadgets 360. “These will be like TVs, headphones, wearables -- all connected to smartphones… Now for giving the experience of these particular devices, we will be having few of the Realme stores, which we are planning to launch this year, where people can go and experience all the IoT products at the same time along with their smartphones.”
Realme has already created some hype in the market by announcing that it will bring its first smart TVs in the second quarter. The Realme TV models are expected to have competitive design and specifications to counter the Mi TV range by Xiaomi that has made the market tougher for several traditional players.
Alongside the Realme TV, the company recently gave a glimpse at its circular-shaped smartwatch that would come with a list of fitness-tracking features.
But by moving from being just a smartphone maker to venturing into the IoT market doesn't mean that Realme will limit its presence in the fast-growing world of smartphones. The company will continue to bring new smartphone models.
In November, Sheth divulged to Gadgets 360 that Realme would launch its offline-focussed smartphone series in India in the coming months. That smartphone series is expected to debut in early next quarter, he highlighted during the fresh interaction.
The offline-focussed smartphones from Realme won't be limited to offline stores in the country and will also be available through e-retailers, though their design and features would be aimed at buyers looking for new products at retail stores.
Realme grew 263.5 percent in India last year -- thanks to its competitive-pricing strategy and strong backing of Chinese firm BBK Electronics, which is also a parent company of Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and the recently incorporated iQoo. So far, the company has significantly utilised online channels and is selling its phones and accessories through its native website -- alongside e-commerce portals. Its offline existence, on the other hand, is at present limited to third-party sellers. Nevertheless, it does see a strong potential to grow further by leveraging the offline market in the country.
The Realme X50 Pro 5G has compelling specifications, including the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 SoC, dual selfie cameras, a 64-megapixel primary rear camera. But the company doesn't want to limit its 5G offering to the top-end segment and has plans to bring 5G devices for the masses.
“We have a vision to bring 5G devices across all price points over a period of time,” Sheth told Gadgets 360.
However, what restricts Realme is something that hasn't convinced companies such as Huawei and Samsung to bring their 5G phones to India -- the delay in 5G rollout.
“We're still waiting for the telcos to start rolling it [5G] out,” said Sheth. “Once it comes, we'll bring more affordable 5G devices across all price segments.”
According to a recent report by Counterpoint Research, Realme was one of the top-five smartphone players in India in the fourth quarter of 2019 with a market share of eight percent. This is just a few points less than the 12 percent share of Oppo that spun off Realme as a separate brand in July 2018.