Guangdong OPPO Electronics Co., a Chinese maker of smartphones, will start having its own-brand handsets manufactured in India in August as a saturated home market pushes it to seek growth abroad.
Oppo will have its handsets assembled by a partner in the South Asian country, rather than replicate its experience in Indonesia, where it owns a factory, said Vice President Sky Li, who oversees the company’s international mobile business. He declined to identify the partner.
“India is the top priority in our expansion in South Asia,” Li said in interview in Beijing on May 20. The company “plans to boost sales volume in the country to a comparable level with China market in five years.”
The Chinese phone maker is betting on demand from consumers abroad to drive growth after the domestic market recorded first decline in smartphone shipments in six years in the first quarter, with a year-on-year drop of 4 percent to 98.8 million units, market research company IDC said on May 10.
Oppo isn’t alone in seeing India in its future. Xiaomi Corp., the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, released the MI 4i model in the South Asian country last month. Rivals Huawei Technologies Co. and Lenovo Group Ltd. are also targeting India.
Chinese vendors will also focus on increasing their presence in more Southeast Asian nations in 2015, IDC analysts said in a press release dated May 10.
Globally, “Oppo is running into the same strategic challenges faced by Xiaomi, such as restricted intellectual property rights, limited distribution and low brand awareness,” said Neil Mawston, executive director of Strategy Analytics, a research company.
In China, “it makes Android smartphones for China that are competing directly with Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi and others,” Mawston said. It’s currently the third-fastest growing major smartphone vendor in the country, he said.
Oppo is already successful overseas, with a “top three” position in Indonesia, the company’s Li said. In 2014, Oppo had more than 11 percent market share in Indonesia, almost 13 percent in Vietnam and almost 11 percent in Malaysia, he said.
Globally, Oppo is seeking to boost overseas sales to 15 million units out of a total of 45 million this year, from 5 million out of 30 million in 2014, he said.
“Oppo plans to triple overseas shipments this year after expanding aggressively last year into global markets,” Li said. The company won’t invest in the new Indian plant that its partner there is building for the project, he said. The company will provide customized products to attract overseas consumers, Li said.
— With assistance by Ludi Wang