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Chinese Brand Oppo Goes After Samsung & Apple, Little Chance Of Success

Chinese smartphone brand Oppo, who have seen their market share slump, due in part to anti-China sentiment in markets including Australia, the USA and Europe is back spruiking premium smartphone models as they try to take on market leaders Samsung and Apple.

Oppo management are claiming that they plan to double shipments of high-end devices this year despite chip shortages but they have not said how they aim to overcome the anti-China sentiment in markets such as the USA which is one of the markets they are looking to for growth.

Billy Zhang, Oppo’s vice president of overseas sales and services, claims that the overall smartphone market is set to grow 5%.

He claims that Oppo grew 140% in the premium smartphone market despite the latest IDC data revealing that Oppo’s overall market share fell 11.1% last year.

“We hope to definitely outperform the growth of the overall market,” Zhang told Nikkei Asia.

“Our goal is to double our high-end smartphone shipments in 2022 after seeing 140% growth in the high-end segment last year, compared with 2020.”

Chinese management claim that they shipped 145.1 million smartphones last year, up 22% from 2020, this is not what global research Company IDC is reporting.

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Oppo unveiled its new flagship Find X5 series with a processor developed in-house.

Named MariSilicon X, Oppo describe it as a neural processing unit that uses custom AI algorithms to handle images and video.

The Company claims that the aim of the chip is to provide better photography performance, including high-quality 4K video, even when shooting at night.

This is the same strategy that Samsung has developed for their new Samsung Galaxy S22 range of smartphones.

“Image and video quality is always something we are keen to improve. … We realized that only through building an additional image processor on our own could we program our own advanced algorithms and customize features that we want into the device and make our camera capability stand out from the competition,” Zhang said.

Behind Oppo’s first specialized chip for image and video processing was an engineering task force of more than 1,000 people and over three years of development, Zhang said.

The in-house processor adds to the standardized chipsets provided by Qualcomm and MediaTek and works closely with the overall camera module. “All these chips and components need to coordinate with each other. We have worked closely with these suppliers from Day One to better integrate all the technologies and tune up the performance,” he said.

Zhang added that his company will continue to explore areas that are core to improving users’ experiences and would not rule out the possibility of developing more chips in-house for its various devices.

Oppo’s domestic rivals Xiaomi and Vivo are also boosting their in-house semiconductor design capability, while Samsung and Apple have long designed multiple chips, including premium mobile processors, for their own products. Nikkei Asia earlier reported that Oppo is also developing cutting-edge mobile chipsets in-house for its future smartphones.

Oppo production sites are based in China, India, Indonesia, Algeria, and Bangladesh now as part of its efforts to expand globally the Company is looking to outsource supply.

The markets where Oppo have had a lot of success include Indonesia Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, and the Philippines.

“Oppo’s strategy to prioritize and boost its high-end smartphone sales makes sense when the chip and component supplies are not sufficient,” IDC tech analyst Joey Yen told Nikkei Asia. “We do see Oppo’s smartphone average selling price continued to grow from 2020 to 2021, based on our in-house surveys.”

“Looking ahead, Oppo may need to continue delivering some unique selling points such as photography and charging features, which used to be its key advantages, to compete and outperform a maturing market,” Yen said.

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