Hyderabad: Chinese smartphone manufacturer OnePlus Technology (Shenzhen), part of BBK Electronics, is keen to expand its R&D operations in Hyderabad. The company has recently set up its R&D centre in the city, which is a long-term facility spread over 1,90,000 sq ft built in five-floors.
Vikas Agarwal, general manager, OnePlus India, told Telangana Today, “We are working on several areas including artificial intelligence (AI) in our R&D centre. AI remains a big untapped opportunity to all the players including us. We are focused on R&D. Our camera R&D centre is in Taiwan and the main product R&D centre is in China. The Hyderabad centre is the world’s largest centre for us.”
He further added, “We have a team of 150 people (taking care of quality assurance, testing, software and product development) already working in Hyderabad. In three years, we will be creating a 1,000-member team. The team here is working on customisation and localisation aspects for the India market. We have made it possible for our users to get cricket scores on their devices without having to download any app. Our devices also show up if any spam calls or SMSes come. These are specific to India and not available anywhere else. So even in future, we will look at India specific features and R&D.”
The Hyderabad team is also working on overall global software releases. Going forward, OnePlus will launch a Smart TV for India which will be rolled out by end of 2019. This will be a new product category the company is going to foray in the internet of things (IoT) space. Hyderabad team will also be contributing towards this.
OnePlus is also intensifying its offline expansion in Hyderabad. The city is one of the brand’s fastest-growing markets and will have India’s largest experience store spread over 16,000 sq ft by October/November this year.
The company plans to have stores in top 20 cities and then taking this number to 50 cities. Offline is contributing 60 per cent of sales at present for OnePlus.
The company has been making efforts on the innovation front. It has strived to make its screen fully immersive, retaining the traditional smartphone set up. It took five years to make these design changes. It has brought curvatures to make the device look slim.
“OnePlus is known for build quality and touch and feel experience. We make sure our device stays fast even after several years of usage. Our devices also guarantee performance for gamers. We make sure that software updates are faster than any other device. We also have the best battery performance. We have tried several machine learning-based optimisation on our devices. We are yet to bring in major artificial intelligence features in our devices,” he added.
The company also has a global contact centre in India. The country remains a key market for the company accounting for one-third of global sales. OnePlus is committed to make further investments into the India market. Oppo is making OnePlus devices in Uttar Pradesh at present to cater to the domestic market.
He said the company sees 5G as a major opportunity. It has already rolled out a device in 5G. There are plans to begin trials in India in July and the company is already in talks with Jio and Qualcomm. It is also trying to understand use cases.
The company has launched OnePlus 7 along with the OnePlus 7 Pro in India. The devices are being sold on Amazon as well as offline stores of Reliance and Croma. OnePlus 7 Pro has brought the company into the super-premium category of over Rs 45,000 price point from the premium category of Rs 30,000-Rs 45,000 earlier.
Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Pune are the top five markets for the brand at present. Last year, the company occupied 34 per cent market share (of the total five million unit market) in India, in its segment. In 2019, the company expects to see 60 per cent growth, Agarwal informed.
He added, “We want to be the most preferred smartphone. One product that we offer should be the best that we can provide for our customers. We take our time in introducing new products. We launch one smartphone a year though we also bring in some upgrades regularly.”
The company is seeing growth in tier-2 and tier-3 markets through online presence while the growth strategy in metros will be through tapping omni-channel route.