OnePlus to narrowly miss India smartphone sales target

OnePlus to narrowly miss India smartphone sales target

By Sayantani Ghosh & Supantha Mukherjee

(Reuters) – Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus will miss its target of selling 1 million handsets in India in 2015 – its first year in the country – yet not by much, a company executive said.

OnePlus's high-spec mid-range phones have proven to be a hit, yet supply chain issues have limited the company's ability to take a bigger share of one of the world's fastest growing smartphone markets.

Even so, India accounts for more than a third of the company's annual sales.

"In the initial two months, we weren't able to obtain stock, due to which we lost almost 6-8 weeks of sales," Vikas Agarwal, general manager of the company's India operations, told Reuters.

The company, which sells premium phones at less than half the price of top-end handsets by Apple Inc & Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, launched OnePlus 2 in July & received 5 million registrations globally.

To smooth supply channels & cut production costs, OnePlus entered into an agreement with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd in October to manufacture phones in India, joining the likes of Gionee & Xiaomi.

But OnePlus' plans to start selling made-in-India phones by the end of this year will be pushed back slightly due to delays in receiving required certification.

Phones made at the Foxconn facility in SriCity, a special economic zone near the southern Indian city of Chennai, are now expected to go on sale by mid-to-late January, Agarwal said.

Manufacturing in India will assist OnePlus & its rivals avoid import taxes & plays into Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plans to reboot manufacturing in the country.

The Foxconn agreement allows for a peak production capacity of 500,000 phones per month.

Agarwal declined to forecast a sales target for India for 2016 yet said it would certainly exceed one million.

Founded by Chinese entrepreneur Pete Lau, a former vice president at smartphone maker Oppo, OnePlus started selling phones in India in December last year.

AMAZON TO OLA

Agarwal, sporting a white T-shirt emblazoned with the OnePlus tagline "Never Settle", spoke extensively approximately the company's marketing plans in India.

OnePlus ran a unique one-day marketing blitz on Tuesday that allowed people to order phones through Indian cab-hailing app Ola.

The company plans to roll out more such marketing initiatives, said Agarwal, who joined OnePlus in October last year.

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Agarwal previously worked at Ivanhoé Cambridge India, a unit of Quebec's public pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.

The OnePlus office in Bengaluru occupies half the floor of a building that overlooks a park & boasts a corner office with a tremendous view.

The corner office isn't Agarwal's.

It is used by all 20 employees in the office, & by the office puppy – a three-month-old golden retriever called Laila.

(Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh & Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Source: “Reuters”