“I like people who stand by their challenges and keep their promise. When you are targeting something, 10 challenges would come your way. That’s what life is about. Stay focused and challenges would go away. Reading such books is a source of encouragement,” Madhav Sheth, vice-president of Realme and chief executive officer of Realme India, told The Telegraph a few months ago.
Madhav spent a part of his childhood in Calcutta’s Gariahat, spending a lot of time learning about tech and cars. He also learnt how technology can help. The success story of Realme in the last one year is on the lips of most smartphone manufacturers. Not every product from the company has been perfect but Madhav and his team members remain focused. Here’s more from the man at the helm of Realme India.
The Realme 6i is here. What makes it special and who is it for? What are some of the big-hitting features we are looking at?
There has been an addition of “i” since Realme 3i and Realme 5i were launched. The smartphones comprising “i” addition are always designed in a way that they keep the most relevant features and are of lesser quality from the main series, for customers who look for more budgeted options. For example, if a customer feels Realme 6 is out of his budget, then 6i is a perfect alternative for him.
Back in 2019, Realme 5i popularised quad-camera by offering this unique feature of Realme 5 and Realme 5 Pro at an affordable price that no other brands could offer. Similarly, Realme 6i is bringing again a 90hz display and G90 gaming processor to all performance seekers and multi-taskers like its predecessors. With strong features in display, processor and charging speed, Realme 6i will stand out as one of the most popular smartphone models under Rs 15K in India.
Ecosystem products are important because they help to draw in new customers as well as compensate for the razor-thin margins on mobile phones. What are some of the products we will be seeing from Realme besides phones, be it more earbuds or television sets?
As you are aware, we recently adopted our new 1+4+N strategy, which is one core smartphone + four smart hubs + N IoT products. It allows us to look beyond just smartphones and we are excited about future introductions in our AIoT (Artificial Intelligence of Things) portfolio that will deliver an experience beyond the words.
We will be very soon introducing more cool products in our smart speaker category, along with more stylish smartwatches, high-end TVs and smarter headphones, and various accessories, ranging from in-car chargers, backpacks to stylish luggage cases and smart home gadgets. Like our smartphones, our AIoT offerings will be a full-range portfolio from budget to premium price segments.
With much pleasure, we are happy to share that as per recent Canalys report, Realme has occupied the third place among top smart personal audio vendors in India for Q1 2020 with a unit share of 10 per cent.
How has Realme done when it comes to retaining customer loyalty or in units that are shipped back (or returned)? How do you see the trustworthiness factor improving for Realme?
Our return rates are lowest in the industry. As per CMR, Realme has the return rate of 1.7 which is the lowest return rate amongst smartphone brands. Owing to our superior customer service and cutting edge products, Realme has touched the benchmark of 40 million global Realme users, of which 25 million users are from India alone.
Do you think aggressive pricing is sustainable? Also, having a huge inventory can work against a brand when people are having second thoughts about spending more money on smartphones because of job insecurity. Do you see phones with slower processors finding takers?
Product has always been the number one priority for Realme because of which you will see that our products are always very competitive. But our products aren’t perfect, after every launch event you see negative comments stating that a certain feature is missing, or any other feature should have been there. However, we remained focused on our understanding of customers and gained a decent market share. We only keep the most relevant features for the users, not any unnecessary ones, and can provide competitive products on the one hand along with having a decent margin on another.
A sustainable and healthy margin is an important business objective of Realme. This is the key reason that Realme being a just two-year-old brand has already launched India’s fastest charging flagship Realme X2 Pro and India’s first 5G flagship X50 Pro, priced at Rs 30K and Rs 40K respectively.
The smartphone market is facing a U-shaped scenario and we believe that the ongoing pandemic is more likely to delay the demand instead of cancelling it. Consumers will be more inclined to make purchases in mid-range and budget smartphone categories, rather than premium and high-end ones. We are well-prepared for this surge with stocks of Realme Narzo 10 and 10A, Realme C11, Realme 6i and Realme 6 series in place. Hence, we are not concerned about the piling up of inventory.
Some have complained that Realme TVs underperform under too much light. On the smartwatch front, some have spoken of the need for better integration with software. And there are some who are asking for a better camera set-up and night photography. Do you think it’s time to take a break from this “move fast” strategy and focus more on investing on ecosystem products and upgrading software to offer a seamless experience between products?
We are confident in the quality of our product since quality is always one of the top philosophies and we know there must be some scope for us to improve when we step into the smart TV and smartwatch category for the first time. There is another reason why you can see such comments. We are always there to hear feedback from our consumers, and they feel free to share suggestions with us.
Be it an Apple or Samsung, they have a lot to offer in terms of security and the brands talk about it. What is Realme doing to highlight security issues among its users?
We have just spoken about data privacy to our stakeholders stating that data privacy is extremely important for Realme and we never shared user data with any entity. We highlighted that Realme always complies with the rules and regulations of the jurisdictions where it operates in and follows the directives given by the government.
We are the first to take clear action regarding recent app ban by government, that if they want to remove a pre-installed app, Realme smartphone gives them an option to remove it, according to user’s preference. Also, for the concerned system feature “Clean up Storage”, we told our user that Realme will also release an OTA update on existing models to remove this feature by early August and if users require such features they can choose a third-party app from PlayStore.