‘All smartphone makers must follow law of the land’

Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India and president at Realme International Business Group, gets candid with The New Indian Express.
Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India . (File | Photo )
Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India . (File | Photo )

NEW DELHI: Madhav Sheth, CEO, Realme India and president at Realme International Business Group, gets candid with The New Indian Express while talking about the company’s plans in the new year, its contribution to 5G growth in the country and on crackdown on Chinese mobile makers by Indian authorities.

What are Realme’s plans for this year?
Sell more, get more consumers. Not only cater to smartphones but make smartphones as a hub, creating an entire smart life ecosystem.  We are reaching more consumers already. Realme has a 160 million consumer base across the world, out of which 70 million is from India. It means that basically India is one of the most strategically important markets for us. Also, we will continue to bring 5G products, differentiated products at every single price position.  For us to make and bring differentiated products is like we have already seen in Realme 10 pro series.

How is Realme, as a smartphone brand, contributing to India’s 5G deployment?
We were the first brand to launch 5G phones in India back in 2020, when other brands were still thinking about it. They even warned us against bringing a 5G phone at this early stage. However, we were the first company to think that 5G is one of the most important things in India. The reason is the replacement cycle of any phone is now 18-24 months, globally. If it is 18-24 months of replacement cycle, why not move to 5G directly. Now 80% of the portfolio in 2023 is going to be 5G. Even in 2022, more than 70% of the portfolio was 5G and that’s how we are contributing to the 5G growth.

What could be a good 5G phone in terms of price?
Ideally, an affordable 5G smartphone would be between R 10,000 and R15,000. We already have 5G phones below R  15,000, but we are trying to bring more choices for the consumers below this price point. What I see is that the industry is not going below R10,000 for 5G smartphones this year.

For the past two years, Chinese smartphone makers have been under the scanner of India’s investigation agencies. Do you think such crackdowns could make the environment unfavourable for companies doing business in India?
It is all about compliances. It is not about an Indian company or a foreign company. Anybody working in the country has to follow the law of the land. If you’re not following compliances, the government will definitely ask you to follow the compliances. 

So, it’s not about Xiaomi, Oppo or Samsung, it’s about any company which is not following the regulations.

We have to make sure that the people are aware that this is not about India and China. This is what the authorities think right now.

The Indian government announced a reduction of import duty on certain smartphone components in Budget 2023. Do you think this will reduce the cost of smartphones in India?
We are still evaluating it, but in the short term I do not see any price changes. I think the duties have been reduced from 5% to 2.5% on open cells of TV panels. Such initiatives will encourage local manufacturing, which means the manufacturing in India will grow.

So, there is no immediate benefit for consumers?
It is not about immediate benefits, it is about the long term. It will benefit the entire ecosystem because it will bring more manufacturing, more component manufacturers and add more jobs to India. At the same time, it will give more spending power to India.

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