Thursday, 28 April 2016 15:10

OPPO’s Australian ambitions – right product, right price, and right place

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No its not a tasty phone - but a large cake that looks like one No its not a tasty phone - but a large cake that looks like one

The demise of Dick Smith Electronics left Chinese smartphone maker OPPO without a vehicle to fulfil its ambitions of being number three in Australia. Its performance at Dick Smith was outstanding and gave JB Hi-Fi the confidence to take on this relatively new brand.

Richard Murray, CEO and Executive Director at JB Hi-Fi said at last night’s R9 handset launch that they looked at the product, its history at Dick Smith, its extremely high customer satisfaction rate and correspondingly low return rate, and decided to “Take on the whole OPPO mobile phone ecosystem – handsets, VOCC chargers, and accessories.”

“We see OPPO as having the right features, quality, and price for the Australian outright purchase and pre-paid market and together we will deliver the growth it deserves in Australia,” he said.

JB Hi-Fi is an ASX listed company and unlike many of its competitors owns all its 171 stores. It focuses on electronics – computers, TV/entertainment, cameras, smartphones, GPS, and recently whitegoods and appliances. It has arguably the largest range of CD/DVD/Blu-ray audio, video and games titles and well-stocked shelves that make it a must-visit destination.

I spoke at length with Michael Tran, CMO for OPPO about the OPPO Australia journey to date. Much of the rest of the article is paraphrased to avoid overuse of ‘he said’.

Of course, we were saddened at Dick Smith stores demise – we were doing so well in all their 386 retail stores, 9 Move stores, and 28 David Jones stores. We were well on our way to our goal of number three in the Australian market.

He mentioned that Optus had taken on some of its models and was doing well on both carrier plans and in the outright purchase/prepaid area.

What we learned is that Australians are prepared to give a ‘funny sounding’ brand a go, and are more objective – ‘I can spend $449 on an R7 or double that and get no more features’ – it’s a no-brainer.

ITWire has been following OPPO since its launch in Australia two years ago and can confirm from factory visits and reviews of its F1, R7, and R7 Plus that the quality and features punch well above the price. There are few if any compromises - it could sell the product for much more!

OPPO has not bought its flagship Find series to Australia (except the Find 7 which was briefly sold online at its Australian site), but it will soon have a new Find series that will cost at least 30% less than other flagships and offer equal, if not better technology.

OPPO is innovative – at present its VOCC charging can give 2 hours talk time on 5 minutes of charge and reaches 75% charge in 30 minutes. Tran says that it is well advanced to cut that time to perhaps as low as 15 minutes for a full charge – Super VOCC is in its final stages of testing. He commented that VOCC was the only fast charge technology where you could safely use the phone while fast charging as it did not rely on dumping over voltage into the battery. We also spoke about advances in camera technology and the R9 is packed with that including a 16MP front selfie camera!

We spoke about the ‘Apple-esque’ design of the R7 and now the R9. He said that it was what the average person wanted – a quietly elegant, thin, stylish design – after all there is not much you can do with a glass slab. OPPO has its own style and other models like the flagship Find follow those cues.

I mentioned that Australian’s had a preference for pure Android. He agreed that the Colour OS overlay appealed to the Asian market but was working on getting pure Android here. But you have to remember that stock Android lacks a lot of the features and added value that Colour OS provides – the rich camera controls for starters.

You can read the OPPO and JB Hi-Fi announcement as well as a little about the new R9 and Plus here.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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