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      Smartphone brands make laptops sizzle

      By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2021-08-24 09:13
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      The booth of Realme at an expo in Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

      The entry of growth-minded smartphone makers into the global personal computer market has intensified competition, observers said.

      Realme, the world's fastest-growing major smartphone maker with sales of over 100 million units in just 37 months, launched its first laptop, the Realme Book, last week.

      The PC foray, Realme said, signals its intent to build its own internet-of-things ecosystem.

      Xu Qi, vice-president of Realme, said the company's products are now available in 61 countries and regions.

      Data from Strategy Analytics, a market research company, showed Realme is now among the top five smartphone makers in 18 markets, including the Philippines, Bangladesh and India.

      Xu said: "Realme has accumulated a sizable base of fans in the past three years, which brought us to a turning point from making a quantitative change to making a qualitative change. We are now accelerating our pace to build an artificial intelligence-enabled IoT ecosystem, with laptops being an important part of that."

      The Realme Book will target consumers in the 18-30 age group as they prefer light and thin notebook computers and value gaming experience on these devices.

      So, Realme's laptops will be light, thin and gaming-ready-14-inch 2K full-display devices just 14.9 millimeters thick-and priced from 4,299 yuan ($661) in China, Xu said.

      Realme's laptop foray deepens a trend among smartphone brands-Xiaomi Corp, Huawei Technologies Co and Honor Device Co Ltd have all launched their own notebook computers in the recent past.

      Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry association, said the IoT will be next battlefield for smartphone giants.

      And laptops, as productivity tools, will play a very important part in people's daily work, making them essential to companies' future growth strategies, which will seek to exploit the opportunities presented by various kinds of connected devices.

      That apart, smartphone brands are aware of the rise in demand for personal computers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spawned a whole new work-from-home or remote work culture.

      Worldwide shipments of traditional PCs, including desktops, notebooks, and workstations, reached 83.6 million units in the second quarter of this year, up 13.2 percent year-on-year, showed preliminary data from International Data Corp, a market research company.

      Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's mobile and consumer device trackers, said the PC market's hot streak continues to attract heavy investments from the supply side, as evidenced by the entry of new players such as smartphone companies as well as additional spends by market underdogs.

      But the brighter side is somewhat dimmed by a few challenges. For instance, the global supply chain continues to suffer from a shortage of crucial components.

      Xu of Realme said the company had worked out supply chain arrangements that are helping ensure sufficient supply of the necessary components and other parts for its new range of laptops.

      Launched in 2018, Realme rode its popularity on e-commerce platforms and the patronage of young consumers to emerge rapidly as a tech brand capable of giving established players a run for their money.

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