I tried to ignore it initially as ‘just another whisper’ (one hears so many at my age, darlings and in this tech business), but rumour is increasing in the market that Chinese manufacturer Oppo is planning to take over OnePlus. Now, many people will say that that is nothing new – after all, it has been well-known that Oppo is a shareholder in OnePlus, and some of our friends even say that technically OnePlus is actually a subsidiary of Oppo (how complex is this – is this a live-in, a secret wedding, an affair or what?). Both founders of OnePlus, Pete Lau and Carl Pei (SO handsome!), were working at Oppo before they launched OnePlus. So what is so different?
Well, if what I have is correct – and the sources, although unnamed, do know some technology (some of them also know alcohol rather too well) – the change will be totally in terms of market perception and marketing. Oppo might be a stakeholder in OnePlus right now, but in the public eye, both brands are rivals, indeed bitter ones at that. OnePlus, along with Xiaomi, has been a total pain for Oppo, Vivo and Gionee, who follow a ‘premium pricing’ strategy. And they also use the old fashioned approach of marketing: you know, celebs, billboards, big ads, sponsorships and that kind of stuff.
Now, my sources tell me that Oppo now is fed up of being in the background and plans to be up front about owning OnePlus in the coming days (ooohhh…coming out!). Does this mean it will increase its stake in the Never Settle brand? No one seemed to know that one, but every one is VERY sure that sometime in 2018, OnePlus might be “OnePlus, an Oppo company” just as Moto is a Lenovo company (now THAT is a twisted relationship, darlings, but that is also another story). In fact, some are even saying that an announcement to this effect will be made at Barcelona during the MWC in 2018.
What is the need for this change? Well, people say it is because Oppo wants to use OnePlus’ popularity and goodwill in emerging markets and OnePlus devices for its premium segment, more so in markets like India and the US, where Oppo’s premium segment devices are not doing as well. It would be something like those brothers from the same mother, Lenovo and Motorola are doing, where Lenovo mostly focuses on the lower price bands, while Motorola goes for the higher end (although it too has its share of budget devices – I told you it was confusing, sweeties).
And this is not a sudden decision. My sources tell me that this move has been planned for quite a while (Remember how that clever Shubham had pointed out the same quite a while ago: OnePlus has been increasing its prices gradually since the past few years) and actually the first sign that Oppo was getting interested in controlling OnePlus was the introduction of a 16.0-megapixel camera in the OnePlus 3T, so that the device could claim to be a selfie phone (something Oppo prides itself on). I am also told that Oppo had a major role in the high marketing expenditure and the use of celebrities in the launch of the OnePlus 5, which struck many of us as very unusual. So OnePlus is already being “Oppo”ed in a manner of speaking.
But will this relationship be formalised or will Oppo continue to be content with pulling strings in the background? Won’t the move spoil OnePlus’s reputation of being a very different and radical company that never settles? Who know, sweeties? But those whispers about Oppo publicly owning OnePlus are getting very loud indeed.
I am keeping my ears open, darlings. Watch this space.