OnePlus is planning to make a comeback to the affordable market segment by launching new budget smartphones, CEO Pete Lau revealed in an interview. The company plans to make an announcement of its new strategy in India soon, followed by bringing its “lower-priced” devices to markets including Europe and North America in the later part of this year. The new move by the Shenzhen-based company could make things tougher for Xiaomi that has gained huge success for selling low-margin mobile devices.
“We can look at it as having a more affordable product offering,” Lau said in the interview with Fast Company, “but all products that still remain up to the OnePlus standard… and through this enabling more people to have access to OnePlus products.”
OnePlus started its journey in the smartphone market by unveiling the OnePlus One in April 2014. The first model was projected as a “flagship killer” by the company, thanks to its affordability. It was launched in India at Rs. 21,999, which was significantly cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S5, Samsung's flagship of that time, that debuted at Rs. 51,500 and the iPhone 6 that arrived as the latest iPhone model in 2014 with a starting price of Rs. 53,500.
However, in recent times, OnePlus has changed its position from being a producer of affordable smartphones to a leader in the premium market. The company led the premium smartphone market in India last year by beating Apple and Samsung with a 33 percent share, according to a report by analyst firm Counterpoint Research. The latest OnePlus models, which are the OnePlus 8 and OnePlus 8 Pro, are priced between Rs. 41,999 and Rs. 59,999.
Lau didn't indicate that OnePlus would stop making higher-end smartphone models. However, it is clear from what he's said that the company doesn't want to stay in the premium segment alone, and has plans to grow further with its affordable future models.
OnePlus declined to provide clarity on its new strategy towards bringing affordable smartphones when Gadgets 360 reached out through an email. Nevertheless, Lau through a tweet suggested that the company has “big plans” to move ahead.
Affordable phones to power an ecosystem?
Apart from smartphones, OnePlus has started offering smart TVs since last September. OnePlus India General Manager Vikas Agarwal last year told Gadgets 360 that the company also wants to launch smart home devices in addition to its smart TVs to expand its footprints in the Internet of Things (IoT) market in the country. Thus, bringing lower-priced smartphone models would help in getting bigger in the world of connected devices as smartphones can be used as a catalyst to run an IoT ecosystem.
Companies including Realme and Xiaomi are already leveraging their strong presence in the affordable smartphone market segment to create their ecosystem of connected devices. Similarly, Apple and Samsung are the two great examples that have successfully locked many of their consumers in an interconnected system of devices.
Lau suggested in the interview that OnePlus is eager to go beyond smartphones and build its own ecosystem. However, details about how the company would grow further are yet to be revealed.
Will OnePlus 8 series be able to take on iPhone SE (2020), Samsung Galaxy S20 in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.