Realme: What Is Oppo Up to With The New Online Exclusive Smartphone Brand in India?

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World’s second-biggest smartphone market has experienced a major shift since the resurgence of Chinese smartphone OEMs. While a majority of smartphone OEMs found it tough to stay deal with the ongoing cut-throat competition, the meteoric rise of Xiaomi has influenced many rivals to replicate its strategy. Oppo, the fourth largest smartphone maker in India, is apparently following the bread-crumb trail left by Xiaomi to disrupt the Indian smartphone market with its online-only sub-brand Realme. The name might appear as Xiaomi’s Redmi in a brisk sight.

In India’s ever-growing online smartphone market, Chinese manufacturer Oppo has hit the relay with its newest online-only smartphone Realme 1. The device isn’t actually and technically from Oppo but the company’s sub-brand called Realme. Realme 1 was launched yesterday with an exclusive partnership from Amazon.

Before we dig further to find out why does Oppo realise a strong need for another online-exclusive smartphone brand, let’s have a look at the specification of Realme 1 first.

The Realme 1, with its top-of-the-line specs, budget price and impeccable design, is being referred to as “The real disruptor“. The best variant of the device packs a 6GB RAM with 128 GB storage and tagged at INR 13,990. It has a six-inch 2160 x 1080p touch display with Color OS 5.0 (based on Android 8.1) and powered by octa-core Helio P60 chipset. The device comes with a 13MP rear camera and 8MP front-facing camera, plus there is no notch.

The camera is equipped with state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence capabilities like AI beautification, scene recognition, AI stickers, etc. Although the smartphone lacks a fingerprint sensor, it does support Facial unlock which is claimed to be exceptional – less than 0.1 second. The latest AI battery management system closes background apps for improved power efficiency. Realme 1 recorded high Antutu benchmark scores than its close competitors.

Realme Online-Exclusive: What’s Oppo Up To

In its official launch, the company claimed that it had almost all the features and specs which are currently offered by rival flagships, with a few additions. But the Realme 1 is highly competitively priced which will come as an added advantage. Oppo seems to have learned this from Xiaomi which continues to lead as the top smartphone brand in India. Oppo is clearly taking an advantage by offering design focused, high-specced and aggressively priced smartphone through an online channel in India where people are still fond of entry-level and mid-ranges.

India is the second largest smartphone market in the world and has lately become one of the top priorities for smartphone OEMs. Like many other players, Oppo is also trying to garner a dragon’s share in country’s online smartphone market which is kind of a ground-zero for entry-level smartphones. Oppo’s India-first approach is vaguely reminiscent of Chinese competitor Xiaomi, which has amassed enormous popularity in India with the help of its Redmi line of smartphones.

The vast diversity in the Indian online smartphone market continues to spread beyond competition. In CY 2017, the overall online smartphone shipments in the country grew 23% annually. Redmi Note 4, Redmi 4 and 4A were the top volume and value drivers which led Xiaomi to grab a 44% market share in the same period. Xiaomi has always been a ruler in the budget segment portfolio and now Oppo seems to be eyeing a bigger piece of that pie. Interestingly, Oppo’s latest Realme’s offering is not just a typical entry-level budget Android device, as per the features of Realme 1, its specs are comparable to Honor View 10 and Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 2 and both these devices are priced above 25k. Additionally, as of Q1 2018, Xiaomi was leading with a market share of 31.1% and Oppo had a share of just 5.6% after Vivo which was at 5.8%.

Online Deals: A Nightmare For Retailers

Online sales event like Amazon’s Great Indian Sale and Flipkart’s Big Billion Day play an important role in driving smartphone sales. The Realme 1 will go on sale on 25th May as an Amazon Exclusive, and apparently, this online retail strategy can benefit the Chinese maker on many grounds. Amazon contributed to 33% of the overall online smartphone shipments in India in CY 2017. The rapidly increasing e-commerce industry in India has given rise to widespread online shoppers and with the vast reach of the affordable internet, masses are relying on online marketplaces to make purchases. Also, a bunch of deals and promotional offers manage to successfully lure the frugal buyers. Realme 1 will be seen clubbed with cash back and offers on SBI card. It is also offering benefits in partnership with Jio.

Now the important question is that can Realme 1 be a worthy competitor to Redmi Note 5 (or Note 5 Pro). Just so you know, Xiaomi India sold more than 3 lakh units of Note 5 and Note 5 Pro in just 3 minutes during its first online sale. Oppo, through its Realme, wants a substantial share in India’s online channel as it contributes to around 40% of the overall market, according to Madhav Sheth, CEO-Realme India.


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