OPPO launched its new products online. Photo: OPPO

OPPO, a Guangdong-based smartphone maker, recently launched its first smartwatch product in a bid to diversify from its smartphone-only strategy. 

On March 6, the company, which had been a “pure” smartphone manufacturer for a long time, unveiled its first smart-watch, called the OPPO Watch. It showed a clear intention to diversify its non-phone business lines as it also launched financial service app Kash in India in early March.

The product, as well as other 5G products, was unveiled in an online press conference, which was originally scheduled to take place during the Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Barcelona last month, but was canceled due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic.

“In the 5G era, there should not be any pure smartphone makers,” Alen Wu, OPPO’s vice-president and the company’s global sales president, told Asia Times. “Cell phone makers must diversify their businesses.”

“The 5G+ technology will bring consumers a big leap in user experience,” said Bobee Liu, the president of OPPO’s Intelligent Mobile Devices. 

From a hardware perspective, smart wearables will be the future trend, while smartphones will remain a core product, Liu said. All these products will support a lot of cloud services, including financial and internet services, he added. 

At the same time, OPPO also launched its long-awaited flagship 5G smartphone Find X2. 

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic earlier this year, OPPO canceled almost all of its offline marketing activities, but put more effort into online sales with the use of WeChat’s Moments, or so-called “friend circle,” or other contactless sales channels. 

The company originally planned to sell its new phone, the Reno3 Yuanqi version, in shops, but changed to sell it online due to the epidemic. 

“We will further optimize our sales structure and focus more on the online sales,” said Wu. “Although online sales were also hit by the epidemic, this segment recovered at a faster pace than offline sales.”

The company’s offline smartphone sales declined significantly in February, Wu said. Total sales of smartphones in the industry could have been halved last month, he added. 

Strategy Analytics, a mobile phone market data provider, recently cut its forecast of global and Chinese smartphone shipments in 2020 by 10% and 15%, respectively, due to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

OPPO had seen a complete halt of its parts supply from India since the country shut down its customs at the beginning of the virus outbreak. Fortunately, the parts supplies from Japan and South Korea, which also saw more and more infections, were less hit as the two countries’ production lines were highly automated, Liu said. 

However, if the epidemic situations in Japan, South Korea and Europe get worse and lead to large-scale city shutdown, Chinese manufacturers will face more problems, he said. It’s a great challenge for electric devices manufacturers to change their suppliers amid the epidemic, he added. 

Liu said OPPO will be able to maintain its global production as it has factories in China, India, Indonesia and Algeria to diversify its production.  

The story was first published at ATimesCN.com