Oppo Plots International Expansion

Another Chinese Phone-Maker Sets Up Shop in Europe

Oppo is a smartphone brand with a focus on Asia. It gets the vast majority of its sales from its home market of China and other Asian countries. The company is the second-largest Chinese smartphone maker, behind Huawei, and the four-largest smartphone maker in the world, according to CCS Insight’s latest Quarterly Market Analysis. We note that Vivo, a smartphone “sibling” to Oppo, is the third-largest brand in Asia and fifth-largest worldwide. Oppo and Vivo are part of BBK Electronics, a growing and somewhat stealthy force in the global smartphone market that hardware companies need to become familiar with (see BBK Vies for Pole Position in Smartphone Market).

For international rivals that take any comfort in Oppo’s current geographical concentration, it may be time to make contingency plans for what could be a significant new large competitor. Last week at MWC, Oppo announced that it would soon make a rapid push into Europe, planning to bring its phones to Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Oppo marked its official entry into Europe in June 2018 by launching phones in France. Since then, it has expanded into Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Turkey and the UK, bringing its presence to more than 40 countries around the globe. As part of an international marketing campaign, the manufacturer will be a global partner for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 set to take place in the UK in May. The popularity of the sport — more than 2 billion people are expected to tune into the tournament — will provide Oppo with significant exposure in cricket-loving countries. This is undoubtedly a significant investment, but should allow the company to build brand credence in more markets.

Oppo isn’t just keen to address the unlocked, open market in Europe. Company executives made it clear at MWC that it has discussed teaming up with European and other wireless operators. Commenting to Reuters, Oppo’s president of the overseas business Alen Wu said, “The past couple of days we have had a lot of talks with carriers and retailers, and they are all very keen to start extensive collaboration with Oppo”. We don’t doubt that operators are eager to diversify their product portfolios with competitively priced, well-designed devices, but the market is definitely getting crowded. And with all phones looking alike, operators no longer need the huge portfolios of previous years. It’s another sign that competition continues to intensify.

Chinese companies have quickly grabbed global market share by offering innovative, high-quality Android smartphones at lower prices than Asian rivals like LG, Samsung and Sony. They’re also finding that Europe as a whole has fewer barriers to entry than the US, which has become an increasingly complex market to do business in.

As the smartphone market languishes in many countries, Chinese manufacturers are increasingly looking overseas, particularly India and Europe, for growth. Like Huawei, Xiaomi and other compatriots, Oppo is looking to be more European.