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Oppo to invest $7.1b for sharper research, development prowess

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-11 09:02

A visitor tries Oppo's AR glasses at an industry expo in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese smartphone vendor Oppo said on Tuesday that it will invest 50 billion yuan ($7.1 billion) over the next three years on research and development, as it aims to boost its technological prowess amid fierce competition in the 5G-enabled internet of things era.

Chen Mingyong, CEO of Oppo, said the spending will focus on research of 5G, 6G, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and other emerging technologies. Also, it will be used to finance more efforts to develop core fundamental architecture for hardware, and boost software capabilities.

"We have the faith of sharpening a sword in 10 years and we will ramp up the push to build our own technical moat," Chen said.

Oppo has established itself as a globally competitive smartphone vendor partly via its strong offline retail channels and smartphones that boast strong camera capabilities and other cutting-edge technologies. Currently, it has about 320 million active users of its Color OS smartphone system.

Liu Chang, president of Oppo's research institute, said in the next decade, a complete and underlying technical system is needed to help integrate data, computing capabilities, industrial know-how, and application scenarios.

"Separate innovation is not enough to cope with the IoT era. Integrated innovation will be the key for Oppo," Liu said.

According to him, the 50-billion-yuan budget will be partly used to recruit more talents and to boost cooperation with premier global universities. The company has doubled its R&D head count to more than 10,000 in 2019, with its R&D spending for this year topping 10 billion yuan.

Oppo said the company will unveil smartwatches, smart earphones, AR glasses, even smart robots in the future to better tap into opportunities in the internet of things era. Its rivals including Huawei Technologies Co and Xiaomi Corp are also doubling on IoT.

So far, the company has applied for more than 40,000 patents globally, and more than 88 percent of them are invention patents.

Tom Morrod, research director at market research company IHS Markit, said 5G will inject new vitality to the development of the internet of things devices and usher in an era where infusion will be omnipresent.

As of October, 328 telecom operators in 109 countries are investing in 5G, with 50 of the operators having launched 5G commercial services, data from the IHS Markit show.

While stepping up its R&D push, Oppo is also intensifying efforts to expand presence in overseas markets. The company had been selling 5G smartphone in key European markets since May, with promising sales in Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The move is part of Oppo's "5G Landing Project", an initiative to drive cooperation with global network operators, promote the implementation of 5G products and services and connect new industries. Oppo's products and services are now available in more than 40 countries and regions.

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