The Smartphone’s Next Act

We have North America CEO Robin Liu Along with a TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater please welcome them to the stage [Music] All right all right thanks so much we I Had a a huge hold of my schedule we Didn't have any smartphone people so I'm Really glad you're able to come out for This because this is something I've been Writing about covering for a long time Has been very interesting to me really Kind of wild couple of years for the Industry just broadly Things have been Plateauing or declining for the industry Broadly and they were even prior to the Pandemic have we reached a point of Smartphone saturation in the world Um you know if talking about the world So first I want to talk about the History of one pass in the smartphone Industry you know first of all the the Smartphone industry is that I think Maybe Everybody can say that it's the most Competitive industry in the world so They have so many Brands here in the Global markets OnePlus has launched you Know we launched our first phone in back To 2014 so it has been almost 10 years In the industry so talking about the Industry and also The Branding in in in This amount of 10 years especially after The pandemic I think it is a challenging

Industry and also it's changing time for Us but you know OnePlus is still working On the Innovations especially the Hardware and also software Innovations To bring the best experience to the Product Yeah yeah I mean obviously you have you Know access to the same numbers that we Do or is there anything over the horizon That gives you hope that things will Start trending upwards Um Sorry uh in in terms of the industry is Do you think the industry will start Growing again at some point in the near Future yeah so we'll talk about the Industry Innovation especially about Innovations you know uh our brand keep To do that some Innovations on the Products you know people want to have The best experience from the device and Also the brands also want to bring the Best experience for products so that Means we need to find some way to meet The people's demands from the company Perspective and also from user Perspective so here's also why so we Just announced that we will enter the Football form this year to bring the Best insurance to them second is that You know uh because of the economic Environment you know in the world so Also we we also formed the very Beginning one of us we uh we have our

Positions that we want to make the Premium technology more accessible in The world so this is also our mission And also we will continue to do it on This I think talking about the the trend Or also the the future about the Industry uh I believe that every brand Will try the best to do the university To to attract people's attention and Also to bring the best experience to Them when you say accessible the first Thing that I think of certainly in the Context of OnePlus is is price is that a Big part of it uh yeah if you talk about Successful maybe price people will also Think about the price but by me not only The price you know sometimes the Innovation is not only on the coast but Also on the how to you know it's easy to Come combine all the hardware together On device but it's not easy to bring the Best player experience you know it's the Only Hardware issue but also software Issue so we're going to talk about the Accessible of affordable so that means We want to bring the best experience From the hardware and also the software And to meet the people's demand not only In the daily life but also during work During the retirement everything yeah Yeah when I look at when I look at the Market overall you know there are a lot Of contributing factors you know you Mentioned the pandemic all the economic

Issues supply chain issues but I think Even bigger than that and again Predating the pandemic is the fact that Flagship smartphones pretty much across The board they're very good right after All the year these years it's it's hard To spend that amount of money and get a Good phone and because I get a bad phone Excuse me and because of that Um From where I said it feels like the pace Of innovation has slowed a little bit The last decade has been all about you Know higher resolutions slightly better Cameras Does something need to come along and Really kind of Kick the industry in the Pants Yeah so because you know we're talking About the Innovations on the products Especially on this industry you know There are many ways to to move forward So I think maybe uh so this is also Another way Montage I have our advantage With the community you know we need to Listen to our users you know sometimes You know we only Define the product features From the brand perspective but maybe It's not true from user perspective yeah So you know OnePlus has more than 35 Million active OnePlus users what about Now it's a huge community and also we Have our open year Forum to listen to

The users we get close to the users from The very beginning from one past one so Every year we have many many open year Formats with our community users we Collect many many feedbacks on the Products on the software on the features And even on the ecosystem yeah I I think That's totally fair especially with the OnePlus One all the pre-orders Community Was was such a big part of it yeah these Days what are customers asking for this Test I think so first of all Um The most voices in the community is About the experience okay yeah because People that's like UI UI and also some small features make the People's work and life more companies And also for example you you are using The the maps navigation every day you Look the the weather forecast every day So how to make it more accessible and Also more convenient to your daily life So this is what our software design team Are working on that and very closely With with the community yeah it's really Hard for a company to maintain that kind Of relationship with the community and I I think it's inevitable that there's Going to be a certain amount of drifting From that the larger you get obviously You can't really have one-on-ones the Way you used to it at any point do you Think that OnePlus lost sight of that

Hmm So from this point you know yeah it's Not unfortunately it's not easy to do This challenges especially one-on-one But we have found some way to how to Connect with these users very Socialized so you know not only from the Community providers but also from our Own and the centers we also do many Research on the people's behavior and Also from the smartphone designs and Also we have some some learning tools in The building the system also to bring The people's behavior and also to to Optimize The Experience automatically in This kind of things yeah Let's assume that the trend continues That things don't get better How does a company like OnePlus weather That storm Um I mean when the storm yeah let's Let's say things don't you know start Growing again or let's say the numbers Keep you know decreasing what what's the Survival strategy Um maybe not to use the thorough Strategy so you know sure I don't mean To make that down or about it but yeah Like for instance I think a big piece of The puzzle is diversification right I Mean I've got a a one plus mechanical Keyboard back in my apartment cool okay You know so firstly you you know uh Pharma we Define our company as a

Product driven and Technology driven Brand so first of all everything you Know is beyond the product so we'll Focus on the product first you know you Want to make make the best experience Based on the product not only Hardware The software as I mentioned secondly is That you know we also want to build up Our ecosystem as you mentioned we have Our Manchester year bars we have one Last paid and also some uh some Co-creation features feature your Products so these things can make us you Know more connect more have more more Connections with users and people want To stay with us because they can Experience more convenient features and Products from our site another so to Work very closely with our partners it's Very important to strive in this world Or in your industry you know especially Some top hundreds like google.com Because If you want to make Innovations on the Hardware and software it's very Important to work very closely with them And as I think I believe that the Business effort all the things back back To product So for example product I believe it came Throughout here yeah when people talk About ecosystems with mobile devices They point to Apple a lot obviously Apple has the advantage of making the

Device now they're making the Silicon Um you know they've been they've been Building their own operating system for A long time it's always struck me that It's harder to both do that and to Distinguish oneself when again Everyone else is using Android and Effectively especially when you're Talking about Qualcomm chips using the Same components in these devices how do You distinguish yourself you know yeah So forthology isn't part of these um Example you know you can see the yeah The Android ecosystem is quite different But I know we are also looking very Closely with the Google team to optimize The Android system experience you know Google also has a fast pair it's kind of Uh yeah yeah so ecosystem technology to Make the products more convenient for The connection and also back to the Hardware and also software you know As I just mentioned it's easy to combine All the hardware together but it but It's not easy to optimize The Experience So once we have the the sort of Hardware Is the first step to support the Performance and the experience and also We have a huge resource is to invest on The experience Improvement and also more Closely with the community you know the OS and software experience is not a One-time job job you know you need to Continue to optimize it after your per

Launch so it's also why we were so close With our community because the people's Feedback user feedback is very important To optimize the product Accessibility yeah On the note of operating systems Um you know there was some some news not Long ago about plans to merge os's with Oppo you got a lot of pushback from that You know a lot of consumers weren't Weren't thrilled about that ultimately What what lessons did you learn from That experience yeah it's not um about The system he said So currently the Mortgage is mostly about the resources You know currently by sharing the ID Results You know opal has a you know opal shift Almost over 100 million devices yeah a Year globally so that means I have a Huge resources to support the uh the r d Software and also they have a big Advantage on the supply chain So Currently we still have our oxygen OS Directly you know for the OnePlus Devices and also we still have a Specific working team to develop the Oxygen OS and also to connect with our As users especially for the OnePlus Product so that means with this kind of News and and I do believe that and also We already make the happen that you know In the past with the maybe last two Generations product launch and past 11

We got many many great feedbacks from Materials and that has improved a lot Because the reason is because we have Much much more resources to support it Yeah no yeah for sure but I think the Important thing as A company is To learn from the negative feedback you Know you get the you get the positive Feedback you go with it but something Like that you know there was a vocal User response to it After something like that happens does That change your approach to devices or How you interact with the community Um yeah so so you know when we talk About the feedback and also the com so The reason they have the community Culture is because we want to open to Listen to all the feedbacks no matter is Negative or positive you know especially The negative feedbacks can help us to Improve ourselves and also but also There are some rumors not only feedbacks But but beyond that you know when you Say rumors what are you talking about You said it's like you imagine as Emerging about the OS but actually it's Not the University of os we still have Oxy OS but but I mean beyond that you Know They will listen to all the feedbacks Very very carefully so which is good for Us to move forward we will take it and

Also which is yeah yeah something maybe The price twice also thanks to that yeah Is there anything that you could point To over years that was that was a Mistake that that OnePlus would have Perhaps done differently Um yeah yeah it's definitely that that Was something yeah and also some some Some some small problems with a product Design and also a creative the The maybe the design Direction and also Some portfolio plane is conscience Depending on the feedbacks and also the Performance in the market yeah Is the US market as hard to crack as People say it is yeah yeah the U.S Market is you know easy yeah I mean you Know historically it's because because Of the carriers but yeah it seems like Consumers have largely moved away from That what's why is the US so difficult Um so so first of all you know the U.S Market is because of the Caribbean is They have the I can say it's the highest Specification standard in the world okay Yeah so yeah so uh so you need to focus On the product itself first because you Need to get some money notifications First then Otherwise you cannot enter the market Right so so I think it's also another Advantage falling past you know I I do Believe that the bypass 16 when first Announce you with T-Mobile back to 2018

They use the six months less than Expected for the vacation process the Reason is that from the very beginning Even they didn't do the southern Business carrier our Hardware design and Product design is already following the The highest spec standard so this is Also another proof for us to focus on The product itself yeah and also talking About the U.S market difficulty you know Because of the computers you know that Sometimes they are very aggressive Things here like promotions and nonsense Yeah so it's also why one plus also want To focus on [Music] Premium technology accessible you don't Yeah I mean you don't turn on the TV and See OnePlus commercials for example yeah Yeah is is that is is that going to Continue to be the case with the Marketing budget that you won't be Spending as much as others Um we're still focus on the digital Marketing uh and what enhancement Investments you know and also uh but Beyond that you know we don't want to Spend too much money on this kind of TV Series heavy Investments because you Know we want to focus on our community And also our Our users first yeah Is the U.S a more difficult Market than India

Um Maybe somewhere you know U.S and India Is quite a different commodity for Different reasons uh difference for Example the channel channel is required Different India is a is a totally an Open market unlock Market yeah and also The computers searching there is quite a Different you know OnePlus now is uh is A premier leading brand there and also From Brand perspective we have a much Better brand reputation based in the in India so because of the community Because of performance and also there's Somewhere it's difficult but similar I Think is more easier yeah obviously You've had successes over there India is Your top market right now yeah What what were those obstacles why is it So hard to launch in India You know we talked about the reasons why It's difficult to launch in the US yeah Why is it hard to launch in India you Know it's not Um so first of all you know I want to Talk about the the one part of success In Indian Forest you know the reason we Get our success because we take care of The community very seriously fast and Also we make the product the premium Product and also the technology more Accessible Indian first so that means we Know what customers and the market want From us and also from the industry so

Price is obviously a big one in India Yeah and so because if you talk about The value for money you know yeah They're just yeah the average income is Lower yeah and also yeah yes that's a Thing and the second thing that you know We need to we need to understand Which segments and also I mean the price Segments and also the product spec Segment is the best one for the for this Market to meet the people's demands you Know sometimes people are not very Clearly clear about what they want yeah You know sometimes we need to we need to Try to understand which is best for them And I think is very well in the past I Earned I entered laws around Manufacturing locally there as well yeah So currently we are 100 of Manufacturers Yeah so you really have to shift Strategies when that happens Um so you know because we already have a Big volume there a very good market Share there either you know talking About the slide chain if you want to Talk about the look messager you need to Talk about this event chain if you have A very stable volume and also the bean Is best there you can support your spine Chain move forward very smoothly so this Is also why and also the because of the Maybe the the polycline and also some if You want to Respond to this Market very quickly you

Need to have the local expansion to Support venues yeah yeah I mean that That also applies to what we're talking About earlier in terms of supply chain And and you have background in that you Were doing that before yeah you got back On both India and the supply chain yeah Um A lot of companies are not just phone Companies but across the board are Looking to localize manufacturing that's A big part of the reason you know you've Done that in India and yet the vast Majority of manufacturing on devices in General is happening between you know China Shenzhen and Taiwan Um moving forward do you think your Strategy might shift more towards a Decentralized Manufacturing Yeah so depending on the photo depending On the business strategy you know so We're going to talk about the supply Chain because of my chain is to to serve The business first and not to support The business first so so every time We've been talking about a business Strategy so we also talk about the Expansion strategy beyond the business Otherwise your business cannot be Successful yeah because of sweating will Affect your your cost and also the you Know maybe how to respond to the to the Market and also If you want to develop your expression

Locally you need to think about how to Cooperate with the local Partners it's Also very important so for sure so Moving forward we will consider our Global intervention consistently because It's a it's a it's a one of our Global Strategy part yeah so you announced a While back that you'll be launching a Foldable this year yeah I believe this Week and I believe that disrupt you now Today coming soon which obviously there Aren't that many months left in the year Right now yeah There are currently a number of Manufacturers it's really exploded over The last you know two years in terms of The people who are actually producing Foldables why is this the right time for OnePlus to launch one yeah we have a Spend to be honest though we have Expanded an alarm time for the new form Factor Research and development so the reason At this time is that so you know for the Andrew brand and Android devices we Cannot stop inversions on a hardware and Also and also the software so The reason we launched at this time we Believe that this product can bring the Best in class no matter the hardware Performance experience and also the Software experience for the part to the To the users so the Foster is based on The product second is that you know

After listening to our community and Also To watching on the the trend or in all The industry you know we do believe that Currently the affordable phone to have Some very good time for us to purchase And also to challenge in the market yeah So I I'm using the the pixel fold right Now this is my favorite foldable at the Moment examining the landscape looking At all these different devices talking To uh consumers and customers what do You feel Is and isn't working about the current Batch of foldables Um I cannot much detail too much details About the product you know because of it Still you don't want to give away too Many hints yeah but stay tuned on it you Know because you know this time we bring Our foster ever affordable to you to to The market is firstly that we can we Believe that we want to bring the best Experience to you as you said that you Do you do love this photo form because Of the fun Factor because of the Appearance so experience is not a not a Relay on related on the hardware but Also the software so it's also why for One person we spend so long time on the Development so settings on it I have to Believe that it will be your another Dream form yeah Oppo has a uh I think they have a couple

Of foldables on the market at this point One of them the the form factor is Actually pretty similar to pixel Um you've obviously OnePlus has Obviously had a very close relationship With Oppo over the years Um beyond the you know potential Integration of the software do you work With Oppo when it comes to developing Something like a foldable Um so first of all I also currently by Sharing the r d Resources with the opal Yeah because uh Oppo has a very very Strong r d Center globally so so so for From the r d perspective and the Technology perspective yeah for sure so We are sharing some resources and also Some technology results yeah and Together so but on the products Perspective so as I as I mentioned that So we have a specific team working on The OnePlus devices yeah from the Beginning from the beginning to the end Yeah so we only have a minute left and I Remember there was a launch uh several Years ago that had like a VR headset you Know put the phone in yeah Um but OnePlus hasn't been huge in AR And VR in the year since what what is The company's current feeling about Those Technologies uh I'm not that's not My okay professional area so but I can Say that so as I mentioned the reason we Do some

AR VR Area because they want to understand the People's Demand For example because people want to have This kind of arvr because of the Experience right So we can also get some ideas from this Kind of research on this area not only On the exact arvr products but also we Can get also get some ideas for our Smartphone devices how to bring the best Bearings to the to users yeah but like For example and I real quick Um if customers say hey we want air and VR then you're going to start exploring AR VR is that how it works Robin thank you so much thank you thank You thank you guys [Music]

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