OPPO has been a dominant player in the Indian smartphone industry since half a decade. It’s been under the top four smartphone brands in the second most populous country in the world, and this would not have been possible without the focus and investment into R&D it has put in here. The man-in-charge, Tasleem Arif, VP and Head of R&D, OPPO India, has been the torch bearer of this evolution of the brand here. He spoke with Haider Ali Khan on OPPO’s sincerity towards innovations.
How OPPO’s R&D center is adapting itself with the changes in user preferences as it evolves daily?
At OPPO, we keep our customers at the core of our business strategy and stay committed to offer innovative products. In line to our customer-centric approach, we had launched OPPO’s first R&D Center in Hyderabad to establish it as center of excellence for 5G and camera innovation. Our efforts to achieve this aim are already underway.
To create the best-in-class products for our consumers, we focus on five key parameters – quality, value, trust, reliability & durability. At our R&D Centre in Hyderabad, we take relevant insights from the customer feedback to bring alive localized innovations which meet the needs of our consumer, empowering them to experience ease and convenience in product and innovation.
At OPPO, we have launched a wide range of smart devices spearheaded by the Find and Reno series. Beyond devices, we have also provided our users with ColorOS and internet services like OPPO Cloud and OPPO+.
As a brand, we give utmost importance to customer-centric innovation and constantly keep following newer consumer trends. We also give equal importance to customer feedback in order to improvise our products and technology. Additionally, we are focusing on major needs of consumers to design products with improved technologies and keep upgrading and improving the user experience for smartphone customers. We are also taking lead in IoT space and continuing our work in the areas like camera, AI, 5G, gaming.
What were the challenges here as compared to global users?
Indian market is extremely diverse, where the consumers are constantly evolving when looking at their preferences and choices. With the increasing number of smartphone users, the demand varies on multiple factors such as technology, camera, budget, usage amongst many other factors. In India, millennials have taken a center stage when it comes to consumer market with them comprising a 47% share in the working age population. These millennials have high levels of disposable income and are digitally connected individuals. This demographic gives us immense opportunity to cater to a wider customer base.
We have continuously evolved ourselves to meet the needs of the India consumer through our wide range of products and services.
You have led to many India-specific innovations in your design language and OS. How do you rate yourself on scale of innovation?
We, at OPPO, are committed to making in India for India. Our Hyderabad R&D centre is focused on gaining deeper insights about Indian consumers and market. Thereby, building India centric innovations and customized product offerings. As a customer-obsessed brand, we feel that understanding consumer demands, analyzing the need gap & considering the cultural preferences are key factors to design better products.
Within our teams, we have a very structured approach towards thinking about design and its outcome. This process leads us into innovating new technology and best in design devices. Our motto is ” Innovate or die” and with this as our driving force we give utmost importance to newer innovation each time we think of a product. For instance, we have used photo gallery as an app launcher and have innovatively aligned it with user’s mental model & behavior of storing the documents in photo gallery. This innovative design of app launch resolved all the issues related to app discovery within the phone.
Is innovation dying a slow death in mobile world?
The smartphone segment is an ever-evolving segment and has witnessed some of the key innovation in past 5 years and with the world becoming more connected, this sector is on a cusp of better innovation and technological interventions. Smartphones have already become the single most important digital device as it serves more purposes than just taking calls or pictures. With the expected advent of 5G and IoT, smartphones will play a major role as a gateway in connecting people with technology and making lives easier.
OPPO recently unveiled its new and refreshed ColorOS 7. How smooth the adaptability is among users and what were their feedbacks?
To elevate consumer experience in smartphones, we launched ColorOS 7 last year with a revamped interface and enhanced features. Since its launch back in 2013, ColorOS has become one of the most widely-used Android-based mobile OS in the world. The ColorOS currently has over 300 million users, supports 80 languages, and is available in over 140 regions around the globe.
When it comes to the customer response, we have received a very positive feedback so far for ColorOS7.
Overall satisfaction levels for ColorOS 7 are significantly higher compared to previous versions, especially for Photography and Gaming. Dark Mode, 3 Finger Screenshot and various other localized features introduced in ColorOS7 have been praised by our users. We have also received thumbs up for ColorOS7’s simple, efficient and convenient design. We are carefully evaluating the user feedback and incorporating the same in next versions of colorOS7.
You have collaborated with Digilocker here. How convenient the process is for an average rural/semi-urban user?
In line with our commitment to empower our Indian consumers to experience the ease and convenience of a paperless government, OPPO became the first smartphone brand to integrate Digilocker service into ColorOS 7. In addition to this, we also launched a localized feature called DocVault. As a brand, we give utmost importance on privacy protection and securing user data. In this regard, we have ensured that the user information is stored and fetched directly from the government server. Digilocker service allows users to store documents like driving license and Aadhaar card digitally with ease, instead of having to carry these in physical format.
Tell us about OPPO’s planned investment in India for R&D?
In a short span of time, our Hyderabad R&D centre has made significant contribution to OPPO’s innovation engine – both globally as well as in India. This facility has over 500 employees and is focused on gaining deeper insights about Indian consumers and market thereby building India centric innovations and customized product offerings – affordable 5G devices, India Local solutions, Camera Innovations, Fasted Android OS Upgrade. Earlier this year, we successfully, conducted the first 5G WhatsApp video call at our R&D centre in Hyderabad. The WhatsApp video call displayed 5G band and speed, demonstrating fast movie downloads and Cloud gaming features. Globally, we will be investing $7 billion in the coming three years and India will also be a part of this. We will be developing core technologies in hardware, software and system in addition to 5G/6G, AI, AR, big data and other frontier technologies.
Additionally, we plan to remain committed to core technology R&D to develop world-leading technology and will build a multi-portal ecosystem of intelligent devices with smartphones serving as the key gateway.
You had recently tried with multi frame video call on an OPPO device. How short would it take to go full live?
We had successfully tested multi party video calling on a 5G smartphone back in December 2018 and engineers operating out of OPPO’s six R&D institutes worldwide had reported smooth connectivity and low latency during the video call. In India, however, we conducted the first 5G WhatsApp video call at our R&D centre in Hyderabad to display 5G band and speed. This further strengthened our vision to be future ready for 5G rollout and success of these tests also validated OPPO’s adherence towards bringing technology to empower and simplify the lives of the consumers. As soon as the 5G ecosystem gets in place, we will be able to leverage 5G capabilities and will work towards exploring this feature and other numerous possibilities in the space.
Financial transactions have been a core factor on mobile phones. How seamless can OPPO makes it further?
In order to provide seamless access to financial services to Indian customers, we recently launched our financial service platform, OPPO Kash. While launching this one stop financial services app, we focused on ensuring highest standards of data privacy and stored all the data in India, fully complying with Indian regulations. The platform aims to have 6 offerings in the next 18 months – payments, lending, savings, insurance, financial education and for the first time we will be coming up with a financial well-being score in India.