OPPO has had more than a few wins since it came to Australian in 2014. Michael Tran, now Australian Managing Director popped into GadgetGuy HQ for a chat.
Michael Tran was Australian marketing director when OPPPO (pronounced Oh-Poe) came here in 2014. He admits he was wide eyed and bushy tailed – alert, eager, full of energy and enthusiasm.
Four years later has not lost that.
But now as Managing Director, he is much wiser. “Sure, I wish I knew then what I know now. The amount of work and strategy to get our phones into Telstra, Optus and Vodafone was inconceivable back then – but we did it,” he said.
The remainder of the interview is paraphrased.
I am not sure what we expected back then
The 2014 smartphone market was beginning to get interesting. In the Android space, Samsung claimed the high-ground with its Galaxy S5. Nokia’s Windows smartphones were still a force. Apple still had the smaller iPhone 5 series. Motorola and Alcatel had the lion’s share of entry-level to mid-range phones.
Our phones included the flagship Find 7 and everything in between right down to a low-cost Neo 5. These were great sellers in China but not what the western markets wanted.
We quickly realised that we could not compete in all segments, so we rationalised. Our new A-series covered the entry-level and R series covered the mid-market. We left the flagship market alone, instead wanting to solidify our position as a premium smartphone brand without the price tag.
Part of our philosophy is to have a very short model life – six months and move on
We had the R1, R5, R7, R9, R11 and now the R15 – and all their Lite, S, and Plus variants, all in four years. And we are up to the A7 series for under $300. (The A series was previously called the F series).
The shorter model life is due to the intense competition in China. In China, if you don’t innovate and deliver exciting new phones to the market regularly, it’s easy to be left behind. That’s why we continue to deliver exciting new devices every six months, taking the best smartphones from China and offering them to the Australian market.
Part of your driving force is your new slogan – the cameraphone
As imaging technology improved we put out better cameras. The phone was almost secondary.
It worked. Along the way, the R11 series has become the world’s number two selling smartphone. In Australia, the R9 series became its largest selling smartphone. This year we became number one here in the mid-level $200-500 segment (A-series) and are number three by volume (Samsung and Apple are one and two respectively).
We have a lot of research and development going into sensors (with Sony and others), lenses, and more. The R15 and R15 Pro use some of the latest camera technology.
We recently announced a licensing contract with Tel-Aviv-based Corephotonics to develop dual-camera technologies. Tech experts say Corephotonics’ zoom technology is innovative. It could revolutionise phone photography and make the ‘megapixel war’ obsolete.