China’s Oppo Sold 50M Smartphones In 2015

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In the game of thrones that is the Android OEM space, Chinese smartphone maker Oppo’s star is rising. It said today it sold 50 million smartphones in the full year 2015 — a growth rate of 67 per cent, year over year.

The sales spurt propelled it into the top 10 smartphone brands for the first time, according to market research firm TrendForce statistics, which place Oppo in eighth place, with a 3.8 per cent global share vs 5.3 per cent for LG; 5.4 per cent for Lenovo; 5.6 per cent for Xiaomi; and 8.4 per cent for Huawei.

Samsung and Apple remain the top two global smartphone players — albeit the former’s share continues to shrink as it faces fiercer competition from China’s Androids.

Earlier this month Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, which has been lauded for fast growth in recent years, said it sold ‘more than 70 million’ handsets in 2015. However the figure fell a little short of its own sales goal of 80 million, underlining how much dynamism there is in the smartphone market. Those that accelerate quickly can still falter on hoped for momentum as other OEMs push in to poach their users.

According to figures put out by analyst Canalys last fall, China’s Huawei overtook Xiaomi to grab the top seller spot for the region in Q3, powered by an 81 percent surge in sales, year-on-year. (Albeit the Huawei figures are based on sales-in rather than direct sales-out to consumers as Xiaomi reports.) At the end of last year Huawei revealed it had sold more than 100 million smartphones in 2015 — a new record for the company, which ranks third largest smartphone maker globally.

Fierce competition between Chinese Android OEMs is clearly not letting up. Oppo is by no means a new entrant to the smartphone market, and has been ranked among the top 10 mobile makers globally before (by Gartner). Which again underlines the swings and roundabouts of smartphone-maker fortunes.

Given there’s now generally so little to differentiate handset hardware, price and brand are clearly key. Yet the Android platform works to undermine OEMs’ attempts to achieve brand differentiation, given competitors share the same software core. And Android skins tend to offer a similar spectrum of UI tweaks.

Oppo smartphones are based around its skinned version of Android Lollipop, called ColorOS. Last year the company released a range of new models, including the metal-cased R7 series (which it said accounted for around 15 million of its 2015 sales), the quirky looking Mirror 5, and the Neo 7.

It said today it intends India to be its chief focus for 2016, with a target of increasing sales by 300 per cent there by the end of the year — chasing what growth remains in the smartphone market.

Also today, South Korea’s LG announced its Q4 2015 results with its total smartphone sales for 2015 tallying up to just under 60 million units (59.7M) — a marginal rise on the 59.1M it shipped in 2014.