Can OnePlus remain independent from Oppo as they share more and more resources? Well that's a big no for NextPit readers. Well, for all NextPit readers except the French ones. Qu'est-ce que c'est?!
Our weekly polls always deliver interesting results that allow us to get to know you better, dear NextPit community. This week was exceptionally exciting for us though, because the polls results were so different depending on the region where you voted.
It turns out that while the entire NextPit world is doubting OnePlus' independence from Oppo, the French audience has complete trust in OnePlus. It's truly fascinating.
OnePlus' independence: only France believes
Overall, NextPit readers have massively declared not to believe in the independence of OnePlus from Oppo: 73% in Brazil, 84% in Germany and 94% among "international" readers of this .com website (with the majority coming from the US and India). On the French website though, the outcome showed a very relative majority of readers convinced of OnePlus' independence (51%).
As expected from a technophile and informed readership, the press sermon used by OnePlus to claim its independence did not totally find an attentive ear. Most of you know full well that OnePlus has never really been independent of Oppo, at least structurally.
German NextPit reader "Hubelix" even suggested that OnePlus was more of a way for BBK Electronics to tap into the Western market, a far cry from the myth of the cool startup selling cheap smartphones. He pointed out that "the money to develop the devices, to build the supply chain, to market them, etc. had to come from somewhere, after all."
OnePlus' brand image is stronger in France
It gets even more interesting with the second question: Can OnePlus maintain its identity? Again, only French readers have faith in OnePlus (66%) to maintain its brand identity and continue to offer its products – distinct from those of Oppo.
The contrast with the responses from other NextPit readership speaks for itself, with 0% of Brazilian readers believing that OnePlus will continue to offer products separate from Oppo in the future. "I believe that soon the OnePlus brand will be just a memory, it will be gradually swallowed by Oppo" predicted Jairo rios, a Brazilian reader.
You can find the same rate of distrust on our German domain (16%) – and here on NextPit.com (6%). This is particularly telling since Germany, unlike France, is one of the key markets OnePlus has been focusing on since its 2020 restructuring and the dissolution of its teams in France scattered all over Northern Europe.
While aware of OnePlus' parentage to Oppo, some NextPit readers are convinced that OnePlus enjoys a stronger brand image than Oppo.
A German reader named rec points out, for example, that "I have known OnePlus for probably 6 years. Three of my friends who know about software have OnePlus devices. No one has an Oppo and I first heard about it 2 years ago with the Find X2 Pro."
Commenting on another article published on the subject, one of our long-time French readers, louis_hory, also wanted to "imagine that it's OxygenOS that comes to 'colonize' the entire Oppo lineup rather than the other way around. That would be downright utopian, but it doesn't necessarily hurt these days."
But, as "Tim", a German reader, comes to remind us, even if it means spoiling the optimism party in France a bit, "OnePlus is clearly not the most well-known brand. That may be the case in a few tech bubbles or in a few countries, but the bottom line is that Oppo is much better known and much better represented in the market."
Indeed, while Oppo ranks as the fourth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world in terms of market share (6% in Q1 2021), it remains ultra-minority against the top 3 occupied by Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi. OnePlus and its 2% market share in the world obviously does not make it a major player.
OxygenOS, the criteria that makes the difference
In the last question of the survey, we asked you whether, in absolute terms, the independence of OnePlus or not even matters. After all, brands come and go from the market. Shit happens – an opinion shared by a relative majority of 50% of Brazilian readers.
You folks here at NextPit.com give little importance to the existence of OnePlus, which is quite strange since the Chinese manufacturer is particularly well established in India and is among the only Chinese manufacturers to be properly distributed in the US. Perhaps the pricing policy of the past few years has drawn the wrath of Indian consumers, who are much more sensitive to price increases than the Europeans.
And once again, it's the French readers who are the surprise, with 80% of them saying that the fact that OnePlus continues to exist is important to them. But French readers are not fanboys. This attachment is not unconditional.
Emmanuel Milcent, who rarely minces his words, believes that "as long as OnePlus can keep its Android fork OxygenOS (or that Oppo adopts it for its smartphones marketed in the West), it doesn't matter whether the smartphones that use it are marketed under the OnePlus or Oppo brand, as long as the quality is there and the prices don't increase."
"If the philosophy is still the same I will always be a customer, if not goodbye!", said another French user, Grego with whom I also share his attachment to the famous "alert slider" of OnePlus, among others.
If OnePlus or Oppo were to stumble upon this survey, there's a lesson they'd do well to learn: brand image is important, but it's not everything.
In France, OnePlus obviously enjoys a very good reputation and a positive brand image among our readership, admittedly technophile and not representative of the market as a whole.
But this attachment is neither blind nor unconditional as mentioned above. OppoPlus risks getting a lot of backlash if it simply intends to exploit the OnePlus brand image without ever translating it into concrete products and actions.
Oppo needs to understand that OnePlus can be a goose that lays golden eggs as long as it is not treated like a cash cow. If OnePlus starts releasing even more rebadged Oppo models, if it misrepresents OxygenOS like it almost did with OxygenOS 11 (which is still a good overlay), I doubt the vote of confidence will be so clear cut in a few months.
Thanks again to everyone for participating in this poll and for your comments. Don't hesitate to tell me what you think of my reasoning and to suggest new themes on which you would like to be questioned.
Original Article from Friday, 18th:
OnePlus announced on Wednesday, June 16, that it will further merge its business with Oppo to manufacture its smartphones. The manufacturer assures that it will remain independent while continuing to offer its own products. Are you buying it?
As unsurprising as the announcement of this "rapprochement" is, it has caused a lot of talk in the technosphere. The gradual Oppoization of OnePlus is not a new phenomenon, and it would be quite curious anyway to be surprised that a sub-brand is absorbed by its parent brand. Especially when that sub-brand starts competing and cannibalizing the parent brand's catalog.
But what leaves me wondering is all the language around the lexical field of cooperation, collaboration that wants to present this absorption of OnePlus by Oppo as a symmetrical exchange.
Is the independence of OnePlus a mask to save face?
Autonomy and independence are two different things. In his statement announcing this famous "new venture" for OnePlus the CEO Pete Lau (who also heads Oppo's product strategy btw) assured that "we will continue to operate independently and focus on bringing the best possible products and experiences, as we always have."
While we don't really know what this tie-up entails, Pete Lau explained that it could help speed up the rollout of software updates, for example. We already know that OnePlus uses Oppo's infrastructure for R&D, sourcing and its production lines. What's left as OnePlus' preserve? The creative process? Marketing? After sales service?
OppoPlus: The risk of rebadged products
It's a valid criticism, often exaggerated though in the past: But some smartphones really do look too much like pre-existing Oppo models. The latest, the OnePlus Nord N100, is even a near-copy of the Oppo A53.
So some fear that this tie-up will lead to a trend of Oppo smartphones simply being rebranded and launched as OnePlus devices, especially in markets such as the US. But original products are needed for the brand to continue to exist, aren't they?
In an interview I conducted with the head of OnePlus strategy in Europe, he explained that the two pillars of OnePlus' independence from Oppo were the software (i.e. OxygenOS) and the OnePlus Community.
But the software part, in this case OxygenOS 11, has allied itself with part of the community precisely because it was moving away from the Android Stock spirit traditionally respected at OnePlus. Will the rapprochement with Oppo "to offer faster updates" also involve a 'rapprochement' between OxygenOS and ColorOS?
OnePlus has certainly promised that its smartphones will still run on OxygenOS in Europe. But in China, the manufacturer has already abandoned its own overlay in favor of ColorOS.
Should OnePlus even continue to exist?
"Why would I care", you might very well ask. And you'd be right. After all, it's pretty silly to worry about the future of a purely profit-driven private company (not that this is wrong in itself).
As much as I'm a fan of OnePlus, I'm fully aware that Carl Pei and Pete Lau didn't wake up one fine morning in December 2013 to create a fair smartphone brand and moralize the market by making technology accessible to all. No, the primary motivation is and will always be money.
This is true for a company, but also for us consumers. Should I, as a Homo Economicus, driven by my personal interests, be attached to a particular brand? Should I be moved by the idea of seeing a company whose products and/or services I appreciated disappear?
Personally, I would say no. I'm attached to OnePlus more out of convenience than sentimentality. If OnePlus disappeared, I'd be annoyed because I'd have to invest in an ecosystem and product catalog of another brand I'm less familiar with, which may also be more expensive.
But after a few months, I'll get over it. I don't have an emotional attachment to this brand. What about you?
So much for this week's poll on OnePlus' independence after Oppo's absorption. I'd like to thank all of you who will participate and give your opinion in the comments. Have a great weekend and see you on Monday to discover the results and our analysis.