The much-awaited 5G auctions concluded last week, with active participation from the three telecom majors. Both Airtel and Reliance Jio are likely to start rolling out 5G services from this month. As India is all set to enter the 5G era, we spoke to Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India, VP, Realme, and president, Realme International Business Group smartphone about the company’s plans. Sheth talks about the potential of 5G technology in India, how it goes beyond smartphones, and will give a strong thrust to IoT, AR and VR. Excerpts from the interaction:
Q. India recently concluded a 5G spectrum auction. What does this mean for smartphone makers like Realme?
We already have a base of 5 million Realme users empowered by 5G devices. We are excited about 5th generation cellular networks that will be rolling out across India. 5G heralds the promise of bringing in significantly greater operational improvements and efficiencies across the technology sector relying on higher bandwidth concentration, higher speeds, and enhanced security when compared to legacy networks in operation today. Moreover, 5G will help drive greater use of smart technologies such as IoT, AI, and VR, which in turn will revolutionise the development of new products and services that can be offered to customers. 5G will also help usher in the era of smart homes and offices as well as connected transport which will transform the way we live, work, and travel. At Realme we have transitioned more than half of our portfolio to 5G and are currently working on increasing the production of 5G phones within the Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000 segment.
Q. What is your go-to marketing strategy around 5G smartphones?
Given the diverse nature of the Indian market, our strategy around 5G and 4G smartphones have never been different based on network capability. We always look at smartphones as a product that enhances our user’s day to day life and sometimes, it’s a powerful chipset, sometimes a really good camera, or SuperDart charging and most of the time it’s a combination of these. The network capability has always been a cherry on top and we’ll keep moving forward always looking at the basic user benefits in mind.
Q. What do you think will be the biggest driver for 5G in India?
5G services are expected to be rolled out as early as September this year and there is both enterprise and consumer excitement around the rollout. 5G becoming a reality will drive a digital revolution in India transforming experiences and aspirations among the consumers. It will play a significant role across industries i.e. manufacturing, smart cities and homes, automobiles, healthcare and agriculture. The real potential lies with enterprise customers exploring ways to enhance the digital customer experience within the contained spaces such as resorts, retail spaces etc. With VR, AR and high definition screens can take up entertainment to another level. Besides this, the area where 5G will be transformative is in the AIoT domain. Though 4G/LTE is currently being used to support industry and consumer IoT applications, 5G has key advantages which cannot be matched by the earlier cellular technologies. It will play a significant role in the growth of smart homes & factories, enhanced medical practices and increased security.
Q. Do you have plans to tie up with any telecom providers in the country for bundling 5G plans with your 5G devices?
We are working on this internally and whenever we have an update we will share with our users.
Q. Realme recently launched the affordable 5G tablet in India, how do you see the market for 5G services evolving beyond phones?
Ever since the mention of 5G came into play, there has been excitement among users. Everyone understands what 5G will bring to the table. 5G is not just about faster data or superior connectivity, it is also about the overall experience that a user gets when using these networks. 5G’s low latency and high bandwidth speeds offer improved support for real-time applications and data-rich mobile apps, thereby resulting in better overall UX. As mentioned earlier, 5G will transform the Internet of Things (IoT) domain. Additionally, Realme Pad X is the only 5G tablet in this segment.
Q. What steps do you plan to take on the technology front to ensure that your devices can seamlessly work across 4G and 5G networks in the country.
Being at the forefront of technology and innovations, we are continuously working towards bringing advancements to our products. In addition, we will be using our existing experience of other countries’ 5G launch and while deciding the technical aspects that a product would feature, or the design it will support, we do go back to our customers, ensuring that we are giving them a good product which will cater to their needs. We are also constantly working with leading telecom partners to make sure that our devices are pre-tested in 5G environments to ensure optimum 5G experience when the rollout happens.
Q. How many 5G smartphones are you planning to launch ahead of the upcoming festive season?
In the upcoming months, Realme will launch at least four new products, which include two 5G smartphones in the Rs 10,000-15,000 category, a much needed addition for the Realme family.
Q. How important role you think will 5G rollout play in smartphone sales this festive season?
Brands are gearing up for the upcoming festive season and with the arrival of the auspicious season we expect a big uptake on 5G phones due to the fact that the availability is closer than ever and even the late majority of consumers who are generally slow to adapt to new technology will take that leap.