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OnePlus Bets Big on Ecosystem Play: Affordable OnePlus TVs And Android Phones Will be Key

It could be a sign of the times. It could be because of the maturing smartphone markets, such as India. It could even be a combination of both. But as things stand, there is a greater need for an ecosystem of products than ever before. Just selling phones will probably not suffice. That is something popular smartphone brand OnePlus understands very well. It was surely on the cards, but the Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent struggles have meant consumers now look for even more value when they spend the hard-earned cash.

There have been rumblings for a while now. Last month, OnePlus founder and CEO Pete Lau had hinted that not only does OnePlus intend to revisit its roots with affordable Android phones, but they would also be adding new product lines to their family. If you look at it, they are already on the way in that regard. With the OnePlus line-up of very capable Android phones, the company has the OnePlus TV Q1 line-up as well, wireless chargers, earphones, a variety of accessories and backpacks too.

Other TV brands should be worried about OnePlus TVs

“In 2019, the OnePlus Q TV Series, was the first step towards the OnePlus ecosystem, which saw a great response from the community. In 2020, we look to capitalise on the momentum and extend OnePlus’ promise of a burdenless experience to a new array of personal technology and a wider audience,” says Navnit Nakra, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer, OnePlus India, to News18. OnePlus will be adding new smart TVs to their line-up early next month, which will add more screen sizes at significantly more affordable price points, to the TV line-up.

Nakra is very clear about the fact that while India has seen a flurry of new smart TV launches and brands jumping into the TV space, particularly at affordable price points, experience remains a concern. “In the last two years, there has been a sudden boom in the smart TV segment driven by brands smartphones, which has created a whole new market for aspiring Indians. However, they do not offer the level of technology and design offered by the top players and the need for seamless technology integration remains unaddressed,” he says.

OnePlus is expected to go the ecosystem distance

While it is still too early to say which all categories OnePlus will compete in, connected home and smart home gadgets are perhaps to be expected. “We believe that to unlock the full potential of technology there must be a seamless integration of the four connected zones in a person’s daily life – the home, the office, the car and the self (wearables) and the interaction of these zones with each other seamlessly is the ultimate goal,” says Nakra. The company understands the importance of a seamless integration of products and services for consumers.

An ecosystem takes time to build, but that is what a lot of brands have managed to do well, to a large extent. No one has perhaps done it better than Apple. And then we have the prime examples of the likes of Samsung and LG, while more recently Xiaomi has made its ecosystem intentions very clear—the Mi Notebook 14 laptop, the TVs, water purifier, air purifiers and even the upcoming robot vacuum cleaner are just some examples. For them, phones remain the very core of the jigsaw, and everything sits around that. For Xiaomi, the strength of that core comes from truly affordable Android phones.

It will be interesting to see whether OnePlus follows the Apple method of hardware plus services that work around that hardware or goes more into the expansion into multiple gadget and appliance lines, much like Samsung and Xiaomi.

Part of a larger plan

Affordable Android phones should give OnePlus the sort of push they need to build the ecosystem around. This takes us back to the days of the OnePlus One, which around the Rs 20,000 price point, replicated the sort of Android smartphone experience that flagship Android phones upwards of Rs 40,000 in that day and age attempted to deliver. OnePlus phones have become more expensive with every iteration, with the latest OnePlus 8 Pro touching the Rs 60,000 price point. It had to, because phones also became more powerful with every update.

It is expected that OnePlus will launch an affordable Android phone also next month, which should kickstart the positioning shift for the company. Pricing will get significant help with local manufacturing as well, across product lines. “Considering the recent government directives hinting at relaxation for the manufacturing sector, we are hopeful of an uptick in momentum. We have recently resumed manufacturing operations at our Noida facility, in compliance with Government regulations,” says Nakra. “As the situation eases, we are gradually resuming retail business in select locations, as per local government advisories. With commercial functions picking pace, we are confident of overcoming this situation, and regain normalcy in due time,” he adds. India remains a key market for the company. OnePlus says they will increase their presence in the country as well.

The userbase makes all the difference

What OnePlus has going for it is a loyal user base, who appreciate the sort of quality and experience that OnePlus products, particularly phones, bring to the table. In the past few months, a lot of people have cut down on expenses and are families are re-looking at how finances are to be managed. But when you have confidence in a brand, it just helps. “In fact, we have witnessed a very positive response to our latest flagship range during the early access sales that we have had so far,” says Nakra, while referring to the response to the sales of the latest OnePlus 8 and the OnePlus 8 Pro smartphones, which went on sale at different stages in the past few weeks.

The OnePlus Community will have a say on the new product categories. Nakra talks about the positive response the OnePlus TVs have received. He says that the OnePlus user base expects the company to cater to their ever-growing requirements, across a variety of usage scenarios. All while keeping the price and value sensitivities in mind.

One of the community initiatives that OnePlus launched was the Red Cable club, in December last year. “Since its launch, the Red Cable Club now serves a user base of over 1.5 million members from among our 5 million strong community in India. This initiative curated by the community, for the community gives members exclusive benefits and rewards,” he says. One of the recent ‘Summer of OnePlus’ campaigns gave Red Cable Club members access to special activities and first-hand access to sales announcements, exclusive updates, contests and much more.

Caution is important

OnePlus will have to careful of the pace at which it tries to achieve the ecosystem dreams. Not many may remember it, but a Chinese company called LeEco tried the same a few years ago—from Android phones to TVs to virtual reality, cycles to electric vehicles—and went bust in the process. It perhaps wanted to take on Apple, Tesla and Netflix all together, and may have in due course, with a bit of restraint. A few years ago, Xiaomi stopped at the very doorstep of making the mistake of trying too many things too soon, and time as well as patience is paying off big time. It may be enticing to do this fast, but the key could be to do it well.


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Chinese Smartphone Makers Witness Rise in Indian Smart TV Market: Counterpoint Research

Leading smartphone brand Xiaomi grabbed 27 percent market share of the India smart TV market in the first quarter this year, followed by LG at distant 14 percent and Samsung at 10 percent, according to a new report. Sony with 9 percent and TCL with 8 percent were at fourth and fifth position in Q1 2020, according to Counterpoint Research. Chinese brands are already dominating the smartphone market in China and India.

“Smartphone makers are leveraging brand recognition that they already have in the market and they have enough technical expertise to develop a product like smart TV. So, the entry barrier in the smart TV market is really low for smartphone companies,” said Debasish Jana, Research Associate at Counterpoint.

Smartphone makers are specifically going into the smart TV business and targeting mostly the Asian market where the smart TV category is less mature than the North American and European market. Xiaomi got the early mover advantage and grabbed a 7 percent share in the smart TV market globally. After the success of Xiaomi in the Asian market, especially in China and India, other smartphone makers entered the market with a special focus on those two countries.

“Although Motorola and Nokia have launched the products only in India to exploit the opportunity in the booming India smart TV market – it is unlikely they will expand to other markets soon. In China, Huawei launched smart TVs running on its Harmony OS under both Huawei and Honor brands,” informed Jana. Most of these brands tapped into a market where consumers are buying a smart TV for the first time. They are offering a tailored and feature-rich product to the consumer at an affordable price point. By contrast, OnePlus is differentiating itself by launching a premium smart TV. However, OnePlus has announced that it will expand its Smart TV portfolio in India with the launch of two new affordable sets via an online event on July 2.

“Realme will likely intensify competition in the affordable smart TV segment with its newly launched smart TV range,” Jana noted. Realme has launched affordable Smart TVs that starts from Rs 12,999 and is now geared up to launch a 55-inch TV. While Chinese smartphone brands are aggressive in the Asian smart TV market, Indian and Japanese TV brands still have a fair chance to increase the share in Asia, especially in the Indian market. The Indian smart TV market is poised to grow as the Internet is penetrating at a faster pace and OTT consumption is growing.

Recently, VU is doing well in India with its wide range of smart TVs. Brands like Kodak and Thomson are technically licensed to Indian EMS, Super Plastronics, and are also performing quite well. Traditional TV brands, such as Samsung, LG and Sony, still have enough brand recognition around the world while new smartphone players are appealing to millennials who are familiar with these brands. “A lot will depend on the positioning for the brands. Moreover, most of the Chinese brands are playing in the affordable segment; the premium segment contains few brands,” said Jana.


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BOE Fails to Deliver First iPhone 12 OLED Shipments: Report

Chinese display maker BOE has reportedly failed to deliver the first shipment of OLED panels for Apple iPhone 12, which is expected to launch in November, the media reported. According to Korea’s Daily, the failure was apparently due to BOE’s inability to pass Apple’s strict OLED quality control tests.

BOE is the world’s top producer of large liquid crystal screens and already makes liquid crystal displays for Apple’s iPads and MacBooks. However, the report did not make it clear whether this is an issue that will impact overall iPhone manufacturing, or if the quality control failures have already been built into the iPhone 12’s production cycle.

Apple is expected to launch four new iPhones under the iPhone 12 series which would include two premium variants. Samsung Display is expected to provide nearly 80 per cent of the OLED displays used in this year’s iPhone 12 lineup. LG Display and BOE are other panel suppliers for the upcoming iPhones. Samsung has been Apple’s OLED supplier since 2017 when the company finally gave its iPhone X this display feature.

The company is likely to supply display units for three of the upcoming iPhone 12 variants, the 5.4-inch entry-level option, the 6.1, and 6.7-inch iPhone Pro models. Meanwhile, LG and BOE displays may be used in the 6.1-inch iPhone 12 with similar specs to the entry-level variant, according to reports.


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LG is Working on AR Glasses For Android Devices, Could Launch Them in Q3 2020

LG Logo (Pic Source: Reuters)

LG Logo (Pic Source: Reuters)

Nreal Light will be the world’s first AR glasses to be commercialized in a business-to-consumer model, according to LG Uplus.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: June 4, 2020, 2:55 PM IST

South Korean telecommunications firm LG Uplus on Thursday said it will launch augmented reality (AR) glasses in the third quarter of the year in collaboration with Chinese mixed reality product developer Nreal. The device known as Nreal Light will be the world’s first AR glasses to be commercialized in a business-to-consumer (B2C) model, according to LG Uplus.

The product, weighing only 88 grams, supports Android-powered devices, the company said, adding that the price of the AR glasses has not been confirmed yet. LG Uplus hopes the AR headset will attract more customers to its 5G service as they can enjoy more multimedia and gaming content.

With Nreal, owned by Beijing-based Hangzhou Tairuo Technology Co., LG Uplus said it plans to create an AR ecosystem where software and business developers can freely develop applications for AR glasses. LG Uplus has actively been expanding their presence in the AR sector.

Earlier this year, it joined hands with Nreal, AR software startup Spatial Systems Inc., and mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Technologies Inc. to develop 5G-based AR collaboration solutions. It has also announced a partnership with Google on AR content development, reports Yonhap news agency.




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LG Electronics Logged Net Losses of $717 Million in Q4 2019

LG Electronics said that its fourth-quarter deficit widened due to losses in its equity ties with a display-making affiliate, while its mobile business remained in the red. The tech giant said it logged a net loss of $717 million in the October-December period, compared with a $67.7 million net loss a year earlier, Yonhap news agency reported. The company’s operating profit increased by 34.5 percent on-year to 101.8 billion won in the fourth quarter, but this was an 87 percent drop compared to the previous quarter. Sales rose 1.8 percent on-year to $13 billion in the last three months of 2019. For the whole of 2019, LG Electronics’ net income tumbled 87.8 percent on-year to $150.9 million.

Operating profit dropped 9.9 percent on-year to $2.01 billion, but sales inched up 1.6 percent on-year to a record $52 billion. LG Electronics said its equity ties with LG Display Co. hurt its bottom line. The company holds a 37.9 percent stake in the world’s leading OLED panel maker. LG Display, which is scheduled to announce its fourth-quarter earnings on Friday, has been suffering from falling LCD panel prices.

Analysts here expect LG Display to suffer more than $839 million in losses in 2019. Aside from equity losses, LG Electronics saw its mobile business extend a slump to 19 consecutive quarterly losses. LG Electronics’ mobile business unit posted $278 milion in operating loss in the fourth quarter, widening from a loss of $267 million a year earlier. The unit’s sales plunged 21.2 percent on-year to $1.09 billion.

For all of 2019, its mobile business had sales of $4.9 billion, down from $6.62 billion in 2018, while the operating loss was tallied at $847 million, also widening from $661 million in 2018. Analysts here predict that LG Electronics shipped only 29 million smartphones in 2019, down 28 percent from a year earlier.

“Sluggish sales of mass-tier smartphones in overseas markets, increased marketing expenses, and retail inventory adjustments led to operating loss in the mobile business,” the company said.