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How OPPO smartphones overtook Apple in China

Oppo Phones

The biggest competitor to Apple in China isn’t Huawei or Xiaomi, surprisingly. It’s OPPO, a little-known smartphone brand that took a bet on offline retail.

According to Forbes, the Dongguan-based smartphone maker became one of the world’s largest five smartphone companies by shipments in Q1 of 2016. And in China, OPPO overtook Apple and Xiaomi to become the second-largest smartphone company by shipments in the same period.

SEE ALSO: Xiaomi to open experience centers in China

OPPO started opening brick-and-mortar stores a few years ago when its competitors (like Xiaomi) were seeing breakneck growth by selling through the internet. Only 5% of their sales came from online channels — the rest came from OPPO’s nationwide network of 200,000 stores, said OPPO vice president Alen Wu.

“From 2011 to 2013, we were confused,” Wu says. “We tried to build up our e-commerce channels and studied consumer habits and the business models of the online brands. Then we realized that most of our customers would still like to experience the phones first.”

In 2012, the company decided to focus on offline efforts, which is now proving successful as Chinese consumers increasingly visit retail stores to experience products or seek after-sales service.

Today, OPPO is focusing on more expensive smartphones like its R9 model, which comes with flash battery charge functions and a 16 megapixel camera for selfies.

(Source: Forbes)