Oppo: App ecosystem needs to grow before we bring foldables to Europe

Oppo executive says Germany troubles will not affect its European ambitions

Oppo says it is committed to becoming a major player in the European smartphone market despite a recent setback Germany but warns there needs to be a more developed application ecosystem before it releases a foldable smartphone in the region.

The Chinese smartphone vendor is one of several manufacturers hoping to become the main alternative to Apple and Samsung, who have an effective duopoly. Third place is an obvious immediate target, although previously the company has suggested it could go further.

However last week, the company was forced to remove its devices from sale in Germany over a patent dispute with Nokia.

Oppo foldables

Billy Zhang, Oppo’s vice president of overseas sales, does not expect this to be a long-term blow to its ambitions: “We always respect IP rights and innovation, and we think this will be resolved properly.”

While others have attempted to compete on price, Oppo wants to compete on technology and capture a greater share of the high-margin, high-end premium segment.

Zhang was coy when asked which of its competitors it believed it could take market share away from, whether it was Apple, Samsung or one of its fellow Chinese vendors in a saturated market.

Instead, he reiterated the focus on technology and said there would be some internal changes in terms of structure and strategy to maximise its resources and offer a more consistent product portfolio cross the continent.

“Our target isn’t [necessarily] to be number one,” he said. “We’re focused on making great products and if you do that, then success will follow.

“We will continue to build on the momentum of the Find and Reno series … deepen the portfolio and we will gradually expend it to include IoT products.

 “We will build our presence [in the market] and build a customer base with our products. We aren’t specifically focused on a single competitor, we just focus on getting things right. If we do that our presence will continue to grow.

New battleground

“We never use the competition-oriented mindset – we just focus on the users. If you are too competitively minded then you will go astray as you will focus on quick fixes rather than what’s [best for customers].”

An emerging technological battleground at the top end of the market is the foldable form factor. Samsung has attracted plenty of attention for its recently-launched Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4, but Oppo has released its own foldable handset – the Find N – in its homeland.

The company is rumoured to have another foldable device in the works, but Zhang would not commit to a European release, arguing that there needs to be more development in terms of the application ecosystem for this to happen.

“Even though we’ve had success with first generation, there is always room for improvement,” he explained. “For the next generation, we plan to [reduce] the crease visibility and improve the battery life [for example]. We will try to make more breakthroughs.

“[But] if we were to bring a foldable to the global market, it would need to fit in with our overall thinking. It’s not just about hardware. From a software perspective we need to see how to improve more compatibility with apps.”

By Steve McCaskill

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