EXCLUSIVE: Realme's focus remains on further democratization of 5G smartphone in India, CEO Madhav Sheth says; company to open 15,000 new stores

EXCLUSIVE: Realme's focus remains on further democratization of 5G smartphone in India, CEO Madhav Sheth says; company to open 15,000 new stores

Realme will bring more than 50 AIoT products, 13 5G-enabled smartphones and open 15,000 new retail outlets across the country in 2022, Madhav Sheth, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Realme India tells Bharat Upadhyay in an exclusive interview where he talks about Realme India's 2022 roadmap. Edited excerpts.

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Sheth is also the Vice President at Realme and President of Realme International Business Group.

The smartphone company has achieved a new milestone of 40 million shipments of its number series smartphones, according to Strategy Analytics report. In Q3 2021, Realme became the fastest brand ever to ship 100 million units globally.

The company currently has 35,000 retail outlets in India.

Q What are your 'Make in India' plans considering it has always been an important market for the company? How many jobs do you aim to create in the process?

A- As you rightly said, India has always been an important market for Realme and we are continuously expanding our ‘Make in India’ plans. Currently, Realme has achieved 100% local production of all smartphones and smart TVs in India.

In Q3, 2021, Realme began exporting smartphones to Nepal to introduce 'Make in India' products to global markets.

We have entered into partnerships with local vendors like KHY electronics, Bhagwati Electronics, Skyworth and Videotex International to push the 'Made-In-India' initiative further. This will enable us to respond quickly to new requirements of Indian consumers.

Realme collaborated with KHY Electronics for local manufacturing of the Realme Watch 2 Pro, Realme Buds Wireless, and other accessories in 2021.

In addition, by 2022, we are working towards achieving 100 percent local production of hearables and wearables. Lastly, under the ‘Make in India’ initiative Realme has created 13,000+ job opportunities in India and will continue to create more in future.

Q - Is Realme looking at further democratization of 5G smartphone segment in 2022? Can we expect 5G phones below 15,000 in 2022 since you had earlier said that all Realme phones above this price will be 5G ready?

A - Democratizing 5G technology for the masses has always been our priority and to achieve this Realme will be launching 13 5G-enabled smartphones in 2022, which means more than half of Realme handsets will be 5G-enabled.

We are observing a massive demand for 5G devices among users, and the entire industry is working to deliver a range of 5G smartphone options to consumers.

5G is in an unstoppable trend, and Realme recognises the importance of preparing customers for the future and providing them with exactly what they want. It will soon be a reality, with a trial and auction underway.

However, I believe that providing a complete 5G experience in sub Rs 15,000 price range could be difficult. Though it is challenging to achieve the ideal balance of performance, camera, battery and 5G at a lower price point, it seems possible with the development of 5G technology.

As a technology democratizer, we're working on it but cannot commit a timeline on this now.

EXCLUSIVE: Realme's focus remains on further democratization of 5G smartphone in India, CEO Madhav Sheth says; company to open 15,000 new stores

Q. Is 5G still the biggest part of your plans and how many 5G phones should we expect from Realme?

A- Yes, absolutely. 5G will be one of our key focus areas going forward and we have a robust pipeline in place. As a 5G leader, we have launched India's first 5G smartphone - Realme X50 Pro 5G in 2020 to bring leap-forward technology closer to our user's life.

As a 5G democratizer, we will be launching 13 5G-enabled smartphones in 2022, which means more than half of Realme handsets will be 5G-enabled. In 2021, the sales of 5G smartphone units are more than 2.5 millions, we aim to double it in 2022.

Q. Realme has the premium GT series, Narzo phones and the regular Realme 9s. How should we look at the Realme portfolio going forward?

A- As a brand, Realme has always dreamt of providing every user with a Realme smartphone and has therefore been building a portfolio that caters to the diverse needs of the masses - be it in terms of price segment or features.

So, currently, Realme has 4 series based on which it builds its smartphone portfolio: GT series - which is premium flagship, number series - technology democratizer, Narzo series - the power for young people, and lastly, C series - stylish entry-level king.

Now each of these series serves its unique and individual purpose, fulfilling the needs of a particular segment of users.

In the upcoming months, while a major part of our focus will be on expanding our GT series, we will continue to bring newer smartphones with latest technologies under the other series as well.

Q. GT 2 Pro will be unveiled during MWC 2022.When can we expect it in India?

A Realme GT 2 series will feature a minimalist, sustainability-focused design inspired by paper. And this smartphone will be powered by Qualcomm's latest chipset and will include extra 2 industry-first features. We will soon be launching smartphones under the Realme GT series in India. Stay tuned for more updates.

Q. Apart from phones, what other categories will you be focusing on, in 2022?

A Realme has always been at the forefront of technological advancement and constantly working on building a TechLife Ecosystem for the users.

Last year also, we expanded our portfolio and launched multiple products across categories such as laptop, tablet, air purifier, TV stick and vacuum cleaner, etc.

To expand our product portfolio further, we are looking at venturing into 15 plus newer categories and will launch more than 50 AIoT products in 2022 across Smart TV, Smart Audio, Wearables, and other smart products with Realme TechLife trademark.

Q After a successful 3-year journey in India, what are the next milestones, challenges and outlook for the company? What sales strategy will the company be undertaking in 2022 to achieve these milestones?

A Realme was established in India in 2018. From a market share of 3 per cent in 2018 to 10 per centin 2019, the company had witnessed a 255 per cent increase in sales during the 2019 festive season, selling 5.2 million smartphones.

In 2021, Realme became the fastest smartphone brand to reach 100 million users, out of which 50 million are from India only.

The company has bigger plans for 2022. Over the next two years, the company plans to invest USD 300 million globally in research and product development for 5G and intends to set up seven 5G R&D centers including one in India.

We want to increase our present chain of 35,000 retail outlets to 50,000+ stores by the end of this year, and we will open one flagship store in India as well as two experiential stores.

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