OnePlus, a premium smartphone brand based in China, announced it will expand its recently-opened Hyderabad facility into its biggest R&D centre globally in three years.
The India facility will play a critical role in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in OnePlus products.
“We plan to grow the new R&D centre in Hyderabad into our biggest globally in three years. We plan to re-focus our R&D efforts on a large scale and drive innovations in India for the global product, especially on the software side with special emphasis on AL and ML,” said Pete Lau, founder and CEO of OnePlus.
The company said it would also leverage the ingenious talent from the city which is one of the biggest IT hubs in the country.
The R&D facility will play a crucial role as OnePlus charts its roadmap towards adopting the Indian market as its home ground.
OnePlus said it is also in the process of expanding offline presence in the region. In fact, local fans can soon expect access to their very own OnePlus Experience Store, IANS reported.
OnePlus, which entered the Indian market in 2014 with Amazon as its e-commerce partner, launches two devices a year. OnePlus held 30 percent market share in the premium category (Rs 30,000 and above) during the July-September 2018 quarter, research firm Counterpoint said.
Samsung is the second largest player in the category with 28 percent market share, followed by Apple with 25 percent share.
Pete Lau on Friday said premium smartphone market in India presents an exciting opportunity, though its contribution to the overall market is currently small. The premium segment is about 4-5 percent right now.
Recently, Huawei launched premium phone Mate 20 Pro for Rs 69,990 and Asus announced gaming smartphone ROG phone for Rs 69,999.
In August, Pete Lau said India accounted for about one-third of OnePlus’ revenues last year and is set to become the “second home ground” for the Chinese company, PTI reported.
Smartphone shipments in India rose 9.1 percent to 42.6 million units in July-September 2018 quarter, according to research firm IDC.
Globally, in the above-$400 phone category, Apple dominates with 43 percent of the market, followed by Samsung (24 percent), OPPO (10 percent), Huawei (9 percent), Xiaomi (3 percent) and OnePlus (2 percent), Counterpoint said.
Shenzhen-based OnePlus has about 1,000 employees including less than 100 in sales and more than half in product research and development.
OnePlus is affiliated with OPPO, a Chinese smartphone-maker and a major force in mid-end phones. OnePlus shares procurement channels and supply chain with OPPO, which allow it to manufacture in China and India at lower costs than others.
OnePlus, which sells a bulk of its phones through Amazon.com’s India unit, plans to have 10 retail stores by the second half of 2018, Vikas Agarwal, general manager, OnePlus India told Reuters recently.
Samsung India plans to hire over 1,000 graduates from top engineering colleges across the country, with over 300 of them coming in from various IITs, Samsung India Head (Human Resources) Sameer Wadhawan said earlier.
Most of the new hires would work in cutting-edge domains of artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, natural language processing, camera technology and 5G networks. Samsung had said last year that it would hire a total of 2,500 engineers for its R&D operations over the next three years, Hindu Business Line reported.
In 2017, Samsung spent over $15 billion on R&D globally. In August this year, the company had announced that it would invest $22 billion globally on four emerging technologies — artificial intelligence, 5G, automotive electronics components and biopharmaceuticals — over the next three years.
In India, Samsung has three R&D centres in Delhi, Noida and Bengaluru. These units contribute to Samsung’s global products portfolio as well as work on developing India-specific innovations.