Poco: Xiaomi’s stone aimed at two birds?
Taking on Realme, grabbing space at Flipkart
A few months ago, we had written a story on how Xiaomi’s brand Poco, seemed to have switched from targeting OnePlus (as the F1 did) to training its sights on Realme. And with the release of the Poco M2, it is getting increasingly obvious that the main aim of the brand is to rattle the Realme cage on Flipkart.
Let us examine the evidence – while Poco’s comeback device, the X2, seemed reasonably different from anything in India (it was evidently a rebranded Redmi device that had been launched internationally), the M2 Pro and the M2 have been rather different. The Poco M2 Pro mirrored the Redmi Note 9 Pro and added a slightly different design (in terms of colors) to the mix, while the M2 seems to be the Redmi 9 Prime with more RAM and a faster charger and again in different colors, at a slightly higher price tag than the Prime.
Frowning at Realme, eyeing Flipkart
Now, there are those who would wonder why on earth would a company release two identical devices under different brands with almost similar price tags as well? Well, as per our sources in the industry – the Poco range has two objectives, which are closely connected to each other. The first, of course, is to confront and take on Realme (a role that Redmi seems to have delegated to it). The other is to provide Flipkart users the closest thing to a Redmi device, from the same parent brand. Now, Redmi devices have been mostly available (or not available, depending on the Flash sales) on Amazon, while Realme is seen as the Flipkart favorite. Poco, interestingly, has always been released on Flipkart. So by bringing in Poco devices that are very similar to their Redmi counterparts on Amazon, Xiaomi could not only put some pressure on Realme but also grab a bigger share of the Flipkart pie.
There are other benefits too – Poco gives Flipkart users (and by many estimates, more people shop there for smartphones than on Amazon) the option to get devices that are very similar to the Redmi series and come from the same parent brand. And on the geek side, those who cry foul at the ads in the Redmi UI can tune in to the ad-free experience on the Poco for a broadly similar price.
So far, so good, but these are early days
If the Poco M2’s launch is any indication, the strategy seems to be paying off. Poco’s pokes at Realme continue. At the launch of the Poco M2, the device which it was most compared with was the Realme Narzo 10. Whereas at this time last year, Xiaomi had appeared flustered by Realme’s persistence and aggressive strategy, Poco seems to have given it breathing space, so much so that Realme devices at times now do not even appear in Xiaomi’s (in)famous “competing products” slide in its presentations. If anything, Poco is more comfortable taking on Realme as it can play the “underdog” role here being a smaller brand so far – the very role Realme had taken on against Xiaomi last year.
Most importantly, by all accounts, notwithstanding criticism from the “this is just rebranding and not REAL innovation” lobby, the Poco devices are actually doing rather well (as per our sources). And some of the customers who are going for them are those who could not get their Redmi “siblings” on Amazon.
Of course, these are very early days. Things could change radically. Realme might make a sharp counter move of its, maybe make Narzo an “independent sub-brand” like Poco. Or well, Poco might actually emerge as a credible Redmi alternative – we do have some experts recommending the M2 Pro over the Redmi Note 9 Pro and we suspect the M2 will get its share of recommendations over the Redmi 9 Prime as well. Would it then be content to stay in its zone or maybe even plunge into Amazonian waters? Anything could happen.
But as of now, Poco is the one stone that Xiaomi is using to target two birds – Realme and Flipkart. And right now, it seems to be very much on target.