Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

Oppo shoring up smartphone presence in Middle East following Dubai move

The Chinese company is expecting 100% year-on-year growth in sales and revenue

Ethan Xue, president of Oppo in Middle East and Africa, is confident of robust growth in 2019. Courtesy Oppo
Ethan Xue, president of Oppo in Middle East and Africa, is confident of robust growth in 2019. Courtesy Oppo

Chinese manufacturer Oppo, the world's fifth largest smartphone vendor, plans to double its sales in the Middle East market, where it's vying to establish as a premium brand. It has also relocated its regional headquarters to the UAE from Egypt.

“Revenue-wise, the Middle East is our best-performing foreign market [outside China]. Almost 100 per cent growth in shipments [sales] will also double our revenue … but most of it will be invested back in the region,” Ethan Xue, president of Oppo in the Middle East and Africa, told The National.

Entry into Saudi Arabia this January has helped Oppo “significantly enhance regional business volume”, said Mr Xue. “Our strategy is to build an image of a premium brand, selling the most-sophisticated phones to capture more high-end customers,” he added.

At about Dh3,670, the brand’s Reno 5G smartphone is one of the most affordable fifth-generation devices in the market. The smartphone industry is experiencing tough times with global smartphone shipments falling 2.3 per cent in the second quarter of the year, according to the International Data Corporation. As a result, manufacturers are now building cheaper and more advanced phones to attract new customers.

Oppo bucked the global trend marginally in the second quarter of the year. It shipped nearly 29.5 million smartphones worldwide, according to IDC, an annual rise of 0.3 per cent. The company's global market share stood at 8.9 per cent behind Samsung, Huawei, Apple and Xiaomi.

Oppo’s low-end phone, A9, which costs about Dh1,050, was one of the company's best-performing models in the second quarter, IDC said.

Oppo, which started selling smartphones globally in 2008, moved its regional headquarters from Cairo to Dubai this January to concentrate on sales in the Arabian Gulf market. The company’s focus is on the UAE and Saudi Arabia – the Arab world's two largest economies, said Mr Xue.

“High-end smartphones account for most of our market share in the UAE and Saudi. We are expecting same inclination in other markets as well,” he added.

The popularity of the 5G network will also add to Oppo’s business. In April, the company partnered with Etisalat – the UAE’s biggest telecom operator – to launch its 5G products in the region.

“Not only smartphones, we will be launching more 5G devices to support the whole IoT [Internet of Things] ecosystem. But it will take some time before we see mass adoption,” said Mr Xue, who joined the MEA office from China in August.

To expand its regional presence, Oppo will “invest heavily” in new MEA markets, said Mr Xue, but declined to provide specific figures.

"Capital will be invested in improving brand visibility and increasing [the number of] channel partners," he said.

“Our past business and ongoing trends give us confidence in this region. We doubled our yearly revenue and sales in 2018. Currently we are number three [in market share] in the UAE and number two in Algeria and Egypt.”

Oppo, which manufactures most of its smartphones at its Chinese facilities, also established a factory in Algeria in 2017, to expand its presence in North Africa.

The company might "open a manufacturing facility or a R&D centre in some other part of the Middle East, but it will depend on market circumstances", said Mr Xue.

Updated: November 12, 2019 12:29 PM

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