A plus one for OPPO with OnePlus merger

By Elles Houweling

OPPO and OnePlus have made it official. After having closely collaborated for some time, the two Chinese smartphone brands are merging, with OnePlus becoming an OPPO sub-brand. According to Chinese media, the organisational adjustment of the two companies touts preparations for the phone maker’s entry into the car manufacturing industry.

Although the word ‘merge’ was not mentioned in the internal letter released by OnePlus CEO Pete Lau on Wednesday, the announcement indicated that the two companies would combine resources and teams. The letter said that OnePlus would “further integrate our organisation with OPPO”.

The announcement may not amount to any actual changes. Both OnePlus and Oppo are subsidiaries of the Guangdong-based conglomerate BBK Electronics, which also owns brands such as Vivo and Realme. The two companies have thus always been linked. Moreover, the announcement said that the OnePlus brand would continue to operate independently. It is likely that both companies will continue to release phones.

Lau, who had previously worked for OPPO before launching the OnePlus brand in 2013, returned to his old company last year as the Chief Product Officer (CPO) for both brands. This move resulted in the integration of some of the companies’ teams already.

According to Chinese source Shenwang, OPPO and OnePlus’ organisational and personnel restructuring is a preparatory move to jointly enter the car making industry. Last month, it was reported that OPPO had made plans to produce its own vehicles. CEO Tony Chen was quoted saying that “even in car manufacturing, we will focus on areas that OPPO can perform well,” indicating that the company is deciding whether it will begin to produce cars.

Given China’s booming automotive industry, many phone brands have recently decided to try their hand at making cars. Telecom giant Huawei recently released a series of electric vehicles (EVs), and competitor Xioami has also announced similar plans.