“The Real(me) Killer”: Is Poco becoming Xiaomi’s counter to Realme?
Another phone, another shot fired
- It was launched mainly as a OnePlus alternative, but in its second coming, Poco seems to be targeted at Redmi’s rival, Realme.
- Poco’s communications seem to target Realme far more often than Redmi’s do.
- Some might accuse Poco of just “rebranding” Redmi products and wince at some of the messaging, but there’s no arguing with numbers – Poco is today one of the most popular online phone brands in the country.
Almost a year ago, we had written about how Poco seemed to have taken over the role of confronting Realme from its parent brand, Xiaomi. Well, the now-independent brand’s first launch of 2021 only seems to further reinforce that impression. The Poco M3 seems to be a very compelling device and follows its predecessors’ template of “terrific specs at a terrific price.” But right through the presentation, what seemed clear was that the phone was targeted at the Realme 7i (a few other phones were mentioned too, but the bullseye came back to the 7i time and again). Before the launch livestream started, there was even a video about the product which had the words Real Killer in it. Coincidence? Perhaps. What of the yellow box in which the product comes, so similar to Realme products? Another coincidence? And what of the constant targeting of Realme by the brand in a lot of its messaging?
There is a line of thought emerging in the market that Poco is becoming Xiaomi’s counter to Realme in the online segment in general and Flipkart in particular. It is interesting to note that barring the Poco X2 and X3 (and of course, the F1), the Poco range has borne a striking resemblance to existing Redmi products – the M2 and M2 Pro were seen as rebranded variants of the Redmi Note 9 series, and the M3 itself is already being called a slightly tweaked avatar of the Redmi 9 Power, albeit with very different design touches. Some of our sources in the market say that Poco is right now slipping into the online shoes of Redmi, with similarly specced phones at even lower prices. The move is significant as Redmi itself is slowly moving into the offline space, taking on the likes of Samsung and Vivo.
Turning the tables
In a manner of speaking, this is Xiaomi literally paying its competition back in its own coin. After all, when Realme was launched by Oppo, many saw it as a counter to Redmi and even remarked on how similar the brand itself sounded to Redmi. And in its initial phase, Realme certainly did not fight shy of naming Redmi in its communications. Redmi/Xiaomi often rose to the provocation, which seemed to reach its apex point during the launch of the Redmi K20 and K20 Pro in mid-2019. Indeed, at one stage the Redmi vs Realme battle on social networks was almost as compelling as the battle between the brands in the market.
And then with the relaunch of Poco, Redmi suddenly receded from the battle. The relaunched Poco, as we had remarked earlier, seemed a more spunky and spiky customer than its geeky predecessor. As Redmi stepped into the background, Poco took on the task of the “verbals” on social media. The period that has followed has seen it up the ante significantly on Realme. It is notable that Redmi’s presentations do not refer to Realme rivals as often as Poco’s do – indeed, Poco seems to focus (as we have pointed out) very sharply on Realme.
Some geeks and pundits might hem and haw at this strategy, muttering about “rebranded” products, the “distasteful” verbal sparring, and so on, but at the end of the day, it is the market sentiment that counts. And Poco certainly seems to have hit the ball out of the park in that regard. The brand has been running up impressive sales figures and has already emerged as one of the leading online phone players in the country. And the fact that it has run up these figures mainly on Flipkart, which is also Realme’s favored online zone, seems to indicate that Poco’s “in your face” strategy is an ace.
The Poco M3 might be the “Real Killer,” but Poco itself is emerging as a “Realme Killer.” Your play, Realme!