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OnePlus begins smartphone exports from India

OnePlus is also planning a deeper play into India by taking a leaf out of Apple’s playbook.

, ET Bureau|
Sep 28, 2019, 06.38 AM IST
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OnePlus is planning to enter the services space in a bid to monetise its existing premium handset base.
NEW DELHI: China’s OnePlus has started exporting smartphones made in India to western markets including the US, and will evaluate making the country its manufacturing hub, provided quality is high and cost competitive, said its cofounder.

OnePlus is also planning a deeper play into India by taking a leaf out of Apple’s playbook and entering the services space in a bid to monetise its existing premium handset base. The company is already leader in the premium — or above Rs 30,000 segment — with a 43% share, followed by Samsung and Apple, according to Counterpoint Research.

“2019 is our best year so far (in India)…As Indian infrastructure matures and ecosystem for manufacturing builds out, there is definitely a possibility to keep investing here,” Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus, told ET in an exclusive interview. He said that if quality was high enough and cost was good, then it makes sense to use India as an export hub.

Pei was talking a week after India sharply lowered its base corporate tax for new manufacturing to 15%, making it competitive with several countries in the world, in a bid to expand local production and wean away business from China and Vietnam.

He said that OnePlus has put up enough SMT lines for its projected volumes this year and has started exporting India-made OnePlus 7 Pro devices to the western markets such as the US.

Neil Shah, research director of market research firm Counterpoint Technologies, said that with the ongoing US-China trade issues, it makes sense for One-Plus to look for an alternative in terms of its export base.

“We might be going into the services space and might be announcing more services and features.

If we don’t try, we will never know… we are looking at a lot of areas,” Pei said, adding that the brand has captured premium consumers in India and people have more disposable income which the company can tap.

Asked if OnePlus plans to invest in startups or third-party service providers to enter a domain, Pei said, “I am personally doing some angel investments, but we haven’t really discussed that at the company level yet.” Counterpoint’s Shah said OnePlus appears to be following Apple’s strategy, which has seen its service revenues balloon to $11billion per quarter. “OnePlus has similar access to the premium base in the Android space, and they have more opportunity.

Now, with TV as a product available, they may enter content and gaming domains,” Shah said.

OnePlus on Thursday ventured into the Smart TV segment with the launch of OnePlus TV.

Shah said, “Content play is something where players may prefer OnePlus over Xiaomi due to the premium customer base that offers better chances of monetisation.” He added that OnePlus may look to build accessories such as gamepad for phones to work with future versions of smart TV.

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