OPPO’s R&D Team to Exceed 10,000 People
COVID-19 and China
OPPO CEO, Tony CHEN, delivering speech at the AI session during 2018 OPPO Technology Exhibition. PHOTO: Credit to OPPO

OPPO’s R&D team will expand to more than 10,000 people to enhance its “scientific and technological strength,” according to Tencent Technology News.

The company’s R&D team will surpass Xiaomi’s team of 5,515 employees which makes up 38% of its total workforce.

According to Counterpoint Research, OPPO’s R11 and A57 models surpassed Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 4X and Samsung Galaxy models in 2017 which can be correlated to OPPO’s R&D success.

Additionally, OPPO has already surpassed Xiaomi in China’s smartphone share in the last quarter of 2017 and all four quarters in 2018.

However, Xiaomi still occupies a large chunk of India’s market, ousting Samsung’s models in the smartphone market share. Yet, OPPO is already fast advancing to catch up with Xiaomi’s dominance in India.

According to Economic Times, OPPO “plans to make Hyderabad R&D its largest outside China.” The rising telecommunications company is also planning to hire more than 500 engineers to support the new center “over the next few years as it looks to strengthen its market presence in India by bringing more localized products and services.”

Xiaomi has already jumped on its localization strategy as it’s deemed one of its strengths in succeeding in the India market. OPPO is also making fast advancement. The “[Indian] market is growing very fast, and we want to get deeper consumer insights to offer a better experience that will help our business,” Tasleem Arif, OPPO’s vice president and head of R&D told the Economic Times.

The telecommunications company’s CEO, CHEN Mingyong (陈明永), also announced a CNY 10 billion R&D budget in 2019. This number is expected to increase in the coming years. According to OPPO’s official press release, it’s a 150% YOY increase. This increase in R&D capital will also allow OPPO to “integrate its supply chain and build on its technical expertise.”

Henry Tang, Direct of Standards for OPPO also told Business Today reporters that the 2019 R&D investment will focus on “artificial intelligence, imaging, new material and product form design, as well as flash charging.”

On Apr 10, 2019, he also announced OPPO’s three major strengths as it enters a new stage: enhance and strengthen its mobile phone business, applying IoT, and attaching importance to technology innovation and building its brand.

However, while OPPO has arguably surpassed Xiaomi, it still lags behind Huawei as seen in the graph above. Furthermore, Huawai was notably the only Chinese company to rank in global R&D investment. Therefore, while OPPO is a rising player in Asia, it still trails behind in global R&D spending. According to the World Bank, China is catching up to the United States in R&D spending in 2016 with 2.107 and 2.744 respectively.

OPPO is no longer a small player in the smartphone market. As the company expands its team and increase its R&D capital, it has quickly expanded its footprint to other countries to compete with local companies like Xiaomi and Huawei. Despite Xiaomi’s firm grip on India, OPPO may have the capability to trump its competitor as Xiaomi did with Samsung in the near future.

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