Oppo – The Selfie Expert
Oppo is a consumer electronics and mobile communication company based in China, known for its smartphones and other electronic devices. When Oppo was founded in 2004, it made its name by selling high-quality Blu-ray players, amplifiers and headphones. It entered the phone business in 2012 and by 2016, became the top mobile phone manufacturer in China.
Oppo’s short history is filled with innovation and smart marketing tactics. The company is known for pioneering the selfie movement. Oppo introduced features such as ‘Beautify’ for refined selfies and an 80-degree wide lens in the front camera for easy groupies. Oppo branded itself as the Selfie Expert and Leader who delivers the perfect selfie using the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, it’s not only the camera that sets the brand apart. Oppo has come a long way from making iPhone knock-offs to pushing Apple out of the top smartphone brands in 2016.
Oppo’s Growing Patent Portfolio
Oppo is making its mark in the global smartphone market with its quality and innovation. Its patent portfolio has grown tremendously over the years. Oppo's year-wise published patents show a sharp upward trend post-2014, as exhibited in Figure 1. China is the preferred jurisdiction for Oppo to file in with an 84% share of the published applications.[caption id="attachment_2813" align="alignright" width="300"] Figure 1: Growth trend for published patent applications[/caption]
The patent assets related to data security, telephone substation equipment and battery charging form the major portion of Oppo’s patent portfolio. As shown in Figure 2, the technologies that show the highest year-on-year growth are covered by following CPC codes:
- H04N 5/2257 - Cameras embedded in devices
- H04M 1/0264 - Phones with a camera module
- H02J 7/0029 - Battery charging with safety devices
- H02J 2007/0096 - Phone charging
- H04M 1/026 - Phone display module
Oppo’s Focus on Fast Charging technology[caption id="attachment_2814" align="alignleft" width="300"] Figure 2: Published Applications – Top 10 CPC Codes – Growth[/caption]
Oppo’s published patent applications related to fast charging technology exhibit a strong upward trend in recent years. The company has 343 active published applications covering fast charging technologies. Figure 3 illustrates the growth of Oppo’s patent assets related to fast charging in last four years.[caption id="attachment_2818" align="alignnone" width="670"] Figure 3: Fast Charging (Oppo) - Growth in Published Patents[/caption] A competitor analysis for Oppo using Relecura’s advanced analytics module show that Oppo’s patent assets related to fast charging technology are greater than the individual patent assets of its competitors such as Samsung, Alphabet, Apple and Xiaomi in the same technology area. Oppo’s proprietary rapid-charge technology VOOC (Voltage Open Loop Multi-step Constant-Current Charging) has been a differentiator from its competitor brands. The company introduced VOOC Flash Charge in 2014, which evolved into Super VOOC technology in 2016. The Super VOOC technology achieves fast charging speeds by using a 5V low-voltage pulse-charge algorithm which regulates the current to charge the smartphone in the shortest possible time.
Oppo – Market Moves and The Way Forward
Along with Oppo’s experimentation with innovative features, another factor that has contributed to its fast pace of growth is its marketing strategy. While its competitors focused on online sales, Oppo invested heavily in offline stores and customer service. Oppo’s attractive smartphones with high-end features at lower cost give them an edge over the competitor brands.
Oppo has patented two designs in the last year for a foldable phone and recently announced that it will be showcasing the foldable phone in the Mobile World Congress in 2019. It would be interesting to see how the company keeps up its pace of innovation in the highly competitive and saturated mobile phone market.