Realme overtakes Samsung, grabs second spot in smartphone market

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Mobile device maker Realme has overtaken South Korean giant Samsung to grab the second spot in the branded smartphone market, with 18 per cent volume share in October this year, revealed Counterpoint Research.

Its rival Samsung ended October with 16 per cent share. Xiaomi (including its brand POCO) was at 20 per cent; Vivo at 15 per cent.

The ascent brings Realme closer to its ambition to reach the No. 1 berth by 2022 when it hopes to sell over 40 million smartphones annually. In an interview to Business Standard recently, its Co-Founder Madhav Sheth, who built the brand in India with his partner Sky Li, said: “We want to be the No. 1 smartphone brand by 2022. In the next two years, we will also be in the top five brands in consumer electronics, especially televisions, laptops, wearables, and tablets.”

The October numbers mark a paradigm shift for Realme. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer, which is a subsidiary of BBK Electronics, has been able to grab share from its key competitors. In the third quarter (Q3) of 2021, it had 15 per cent share (Vivo, too, was at 15 per cent), while Samsung was marginally ahead at 17 per cent and Xiaomi at 23 per cent.

It was assisted in its endeavour by its aggression in the online sales platform. It became the No. 1 brand in terms of sales on Flipkart during the festival month, with 52 per cent share of smartphone sales. It was also the top two online smartphone brands, with 27 per cent market share.

Sheth expects to end the year on a high note by selling 23-24 million phones in 2021, compared to 18 million in 2020. The company assembles all its phones in the country and claims to have a localisation of over 70 per cent.

From nobody, the brand blazed a trail in May 2018 and was one of the first players to launch 5G-enabled smartphones. With an average selling price (ASP) of Rs 11,080, it offers high quality specifications at attractive price points. Clearly in terms of value, Samsung’s ASP would be much higher. However, the company is now planning for the first time to launch phones at the top end of the spectrum — phones priced over Rs 50,000.

Realme is also making strides in global markets. It is available in over 60 markets across the world. If global smartphone shipments in Q3 of 2021 are any indication, it already has 5 per cent market share, according to the Counterpoint Research data.

Sheth, who has been tasked to run the global business, is concentrating on some key markets — Southeast Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The brand has already made a dent in the European Union market and has cornered 3 per cent share in Q3 of 2021.

Sheth points out that until last year, India accounted for 50 per cent of its overall sales, but he expects that to come down to 30 per cent as they expand to other global markets.

To strengthen its India reach, Realme is increasing the number of outlets to 55,000 by next year, from 30,000 currently. The company says although online sales are crucial, 70 per cent of sales still happen physically.

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