A relatively new Chinese smartphone brand, Realme, rode the wave of the recent 11/11 shopping festival in Indonesia to make a splash. It said it was the top-most bought phone that day, soaring past sales form Samsung and Xiaomi, two of the more established brands popular with Indonesian smartphone users.
It claimed to have sold 40,000 units within 21 minutes.
Realme is a spin-off of another Chinese smartphone maker, Oppo, which is also hugely popular in Indonesia. Xiaomi and Oppo are often battling for high ranks in terms of smartphone units shipped. The most in-demand brand is still South Korea-headquartered Samsung, and it has been for several years now, but its market leadership has come under threat as younger Chinese firms aggressively expand in Indonesia, where there’s still room to grow.
Currently, almost half of Indonesia’s over 250 million people own smartphones, which means many more are going to purchase one in the future. Chinese phone makers have primarily used price as an argument to win over customers in emerging markets. One of Realme’s flagship phones, Realme 2 Pro, costs under US$200 with compelling specs.
But the strategy of selling hardware at low-profit margins has also come under question. Xiaomi, which recently went public, did so by saying that it plans to monetize its community of users through added services, and that hardware is not its end game. No Chinese phone maker to date comes close to the level of profitability of Apple — but as a result, Apple also doesn’t have a strong presence in emerging markets.
Editor: Ben Jiang