How OPPO Aims to Transform into a Global Technology Leader from a Smartphone OEM: Insights from OPPO INNO DAY 2022

Chinese smartphone maker OPPO hosted the OPPO INNO DAY 2022, its fourth annual technology launch event, on December 14. During the event, apart from highlighting innovation in the underlying technologies, essential capabilities and devices design and form factors of smartphones, OPPO also indicated its endeavor to transform from a smartphone OEM to a global technology leader.

During the event, OPPO announced the top seven strategic control points (SCPs) that the company would continue investing in to develop as the backbone of the company’s sustainable development. It also unveiled innovative products and technologies that represent the company’s best R&D capabilities, such as the MariSilicon Y Bluetooth audio SoC, AndesBrain platform, OPPO Air Glass 2, OPPO Find N2 and N2 Flip foldable smartphones. Hereby in the article, we will place OPPO’s newly launched products side by side with its SCPs to demonstrate how the company is working to convert its high-level ideas into reality.

SCP No. 1: Self-developed computing chips that integrate multiple cores and structures to optimize the device performance from the underlying level

Execution plan: MariSilicon self-developed chips

New product launched at the event: MariSilicon Y Bluetooth audio SoC

   Source: OPPO

  • Key innovation points: The MariSilicon Y Bluetooth audio SoC is the first SoC developed by OPPO. The chip supports transmission speeds of 12Mbps, the highest specification a Bluetooth SoC has achieved in the market so far. Combined with OPPO’s self-developed audio codec, called URLC (Ultra Resolution Lossless Codec), which enhances the compressibility of lossless audio content by 50%, the MariSilicon Y can transmit an unprecedented 24-bit/192kHz ultra-clear lossless audio via Bluetooth – the first of its kind in the industry. OPPO has claimed that the chip can give users the benefits of wireless connectivity but with the same audio quality of a wired connection. The chip also integrates a dedicated Neural Processing Unit (NPU) with up to 590 GOPS of on-device computing power to unlock new possibilities in spatial audio experiences, such as separation or customization of instrumental music and vocals based on users’ specific commands. The MariSilicon Y is based on the most advanced N6RF process technology from TSMC, which is the same technology used in the Apple AirPods 2 Pro’s H2 SoC. The MariSilicon Y is compatible with a wide range of Bluetooth codecs, which allows non-OPPO devices to connect and collaborate with the devices powered by the chip.
  • Analyst comments: The MariSilicon Y Bluetooth audio SoC is the second addition to the MariSilicon family, following the first self-developed dedicated imaging NPU, called MariSilicon X, which OPPO launched last year. While the MariSilicon X is still a co-processor, the MariSilicon Y is more advanced as an audio SoC given that it integrates functional blocks such as connectivity units (Bluetooth baseband and RF), NPU, DSP, audio codecs, memory units and more. This represents the progress in OPPO’s design capabilities for system-level solutions. According to Counterpoint’s TWS sales tracker, OPPO has not yet found success in the TWS business. We are looking forward to seeing new MariSilicon Y-powered devices and how they will affect OPPO’s TWS business. More importantly, as OPPO aims to develop more advanced chips going forward, we expect the IPs and experiences accumulated from developing less complex chips, such as the Bluetooth audio SoC, will contribute to OPPO’s ambition in the long run.

SCP No. 2: To provide users and developers with seamless cross-platform connections and services

Execution plan: Pantanal cross-platform smart system

  • New product launched at the event: There were limited updates on the Pantanal cross-platform smart system during the OPPO INNO DAY 2022 as the platform was launched very recently during the 2022 OPPO Developer Conference in August. The platform is designed to break boundaries across different devices and systems to enable seamless connection and collaboration among them. According to OPPO, with cross-device sensing and computing capabilities, Pantanal can better understand and anticipate users’ needs and provide services at the right time in the right way, making it easier for developers to deploy services across platforms. OPPO Carlink, which enhances the collaboration and integration between smartphones and automobiles, is a typical use case under the Pantanal plan.

 Source: OPPO

  • Analyst comments: OPPO’s non-smartphone businesses are still relatively small compared to those of Apple, Xiaomi, Huawei and other rivals. We expect OPPO to work towards converting its smartphone-only users into multi-device users and boosting the sales of its IoT and ecosystem products by providing better cross-device connectivity and collaboration under the Pantanal plan. This is likely a long-term investment for OPPO given its current smaller base of non-smartphone users. It will be important for the company to build on the plan by expanding its pool of cooperation partners. OPPO has partnered with SAIC Motor to fully integrate the capabilities of the OPPO Carlink into some of the automobile manufacturer’s car models. OPPO has also gained support from leading automobile OEMs, including BYD, Tesla, Li Auto, XPeng Motors and Changan Automobile, for the basic Carlink capabilities. We expect it to take time for OPPO’s Pantanal plan to have tangible impacts and business benefits.

SCP No. 3: Combing the computing capabilities of device and cloud to enable intelligent services.

Execution plan: Andes Plan

New product launched at the event: AndesBrain

       Source: OPPO

  • Key innovation points: AndesBrain is a cross-platform smart cloud service that integrates six capabilities – device-cloud data storage, device-cloud machine learning, device-cloud real-time rendering, smart dialogue, hardware emulation, and security and privacy. The platform provides an innovative storage experience by offering Android users infinite storage space based on CubeFS, which is the first cloud-native distributed storage platform in China that embeds cloud storage into the OS layer. It can provide users with the infinite cloud photo album service with smart photo search function, infinite document storage service and the cross-device document management service. During the annual INNO DAY event, OPPO demonstrated the AndesBrain’s Xiaobu AI assistant, which has machine learning capabilities, and the platform’s digital human, which is based on the device-cloud real-time rendering engine. OPPO will soon open these platform capabilities to external developers.
  • Analyst comments: It is getting increasingly difficult to improve the performance of a chip as the scale of chip components continue to shrink in size. Therefore, there has been an increasing demand for real-time collaboration between device and cloud to reduce the computing burden at the device end. The AndesBrain represents OPPO’s plan to optimize computing power and resources between device and cloud to upgrade the storage and AI-powered intelligent services for users. We expect this platform to be an important strategy for OPPO to differentiate itself from other cloud and software services to stay ahead of the over-intensified hardware competition among Android vendors.

SCP No. 4: Smart health products and services to help users prevent diseases

Execution plan: OPPO Health Lab

New product launched at the event: OHealth H1 family health monitor

Source: OPPO

  • Key innovation points: The OHealth H1 combines six health data monitoring functions into a single device, including measurement of blood oxygen, ECG, heart and lung auscultation, heart rate, body temperature and sleep tracking. Unlike the industrial designs of traditional medical equipment, the OHealth H1 is a super-light device that weighs just 95g and is intended for family use. OPPO claims that the heart and lung auscultation of the OHealth H1 is based on the piezoceramics sensor technology, which enables it to provide better accuracy than the mainstream digital stethoscope products available in the market for Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM). OPPO also boasts that the accuracy of the OHealth H1’s heart rate and blood oxygen readings, and the algorithm to detect arrhythmia can exceed performances of mainstream smart wearable products. However, the OHealth H1 is still a concept product at this moment.
  • Analyst comments: OPPO established the Smart Health Lab in 2020 and positioned it as a strategic investment with no return on investment (RoI) KPI in the short to midterm (another strategic investment apart from the self-developed chips). OPPO’s Health Lab has been building strategic partnerships with top medical universities, R&D centers and hospitals in China to combine the professionalism and resources of medical research organizations with OPPO’s expertise in device development and user operation. It targets to spark innovation in not only consumer medical hardware, but also medical service and ecosystem business models. The OHealth H1 is the first hardware product developed by OPPO’s Smart Health Lab. OPPO’s smart health strategy can be a bold step for the company to enter the lucrative medical devices market and achieve a breakthrough in the consumer IoT area, which will also allow it to diversify away from its already-successful smartphone business. For that, OPPO will have to put in great efforts to improve medical research, attain regulatory approvals and develop life-design skills.

SCP No. 5: Developing home service robots to bring warmth and convenience to individuals and families

New product launched at the event: Xiaobu home robot

Source: OPPO

  • Key innovation points: The Xiaobu home robot is the first humanoid robot product developed by OPPO. It can verbally answer questions, converse with humans and offer reminders on the weather, schedules and healthcare routines, using the Natural Language Processing (NLP)/Natural Language Understanding (NLU) technologies. The robot can also comfort humans and interact with them using its emotion recognition technology. The robots can automatically elude barriers to navigate home spaces based on the SLAM and acoustic source localization technologies. OPPO expects the Xiaobu home robot to fill the role of an adorable family member to provide convenient, intelligent and heartwarming services at home.
  • Analyst’s comments: We anticipate some segments of the consumer robotics market to offer excellent growth potential. Because these products are easier to make, we expect OPPO to target the home companion and service robot segment as its entry point into the market. By developing these products, OPPO can accumulate key IPs in the robotics domain, such as localization and navigation technologies, mechanical arm technologies, motor systems and AI algorithms, including NLP/NLU and computer vision. At this point, the Xiaobu home robot is most likely a concept product with no commercialization plan in the short term. We expect it to still take some time for home service robot products (not only from OPPO but the mass market) to mature and achieve commercial success.

SCP No. 6: XR and Metaverse have the potential to disrupt how humans interact

Execution plan: XR research lab

New product launched at the event: OPPO Air Glass 2

      Source: OPPO

  • Key innovation points: The OPPO Air Glass 2 features a super-lightweight design, weighing only about 38g. It includes the world’s first resin SRG-diffractive waveguide lens developed by OPPO. According to OPPO, these lenses will support vision correction and further customization, making them almost indistinguishable from regular glasses. The Air Glass 2 can make phone calls, make real-time translations, provide location-based navigation, convert voice into text for people with hearing impairments and provide other smart experiences.
  • Analyst’s comments: The Air Glass 2 is the fourth smart AR glass developed by OPPO, since the introduction of the first OPPO AR Glass in December 2019. OPPO has been trying to optimize the weight and size of each iteration. There seems to be limited upgrade in the utility functions of the Air Glass 2 from its predecessor, the OPPO Air Glass. The OPPO Air Glass 2 can display content on double lens while the predecessor only supports single-lens display. The OPPO Air Glass was commercialized at a small scale in China, priced at RMB4,999 ($769), while the Air Glass 2 is still under development. We expect OPPO to position the Air Glass 2 either as a concept product or commercialize it at a small scale as well. The Metaverse has become a highly-hyped concept in recent years, and we see tremendous growth potential in the global XR market over the next five years. Nevertheless, with the uncertainty in financial return and the timing of widespread adoption, we’re also seeing more prudent investments from Chinese smartphone OEMs in this domain.

SCP No. 7: Smartphone to remain the core computing hub in the next decade

Execution plan: Premiumization of the OPPO smartphone brand

For the insights on OPPO’s brand premiumization strategy and new products launched in this regard, and the PDF version of the full report, please click here to download.

Flora is a Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research based out of Hong Kong. She started her career as an analyst for new market development with LeEco APAC, where she conducted market research regarding telecommunications, smart devices, internet and OTT business across APAC region. Furthermore, she moved to China Mobile International (CMI) to support globalization of the leading Chinese telecom giant, and help with strategic cooperation between CMI and global carriers. To pursue her line of interest in smart devices, IoT and mobile ecosystem, she joined Counterpoint Research team. In academics Flora holds a Master in Corporate Communications with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Bachelor of Law in International Relations and Regional Studies with Sun Yat-sen University.

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