Chinese smartphone major OnePlus’s most-important launch event of 2023—Cloud 11—is just a few hours away. This year’s product lineup includes wireless earbuds, premium television, and, for the first time in India, the OnePlus Pad tablet. However, these are just starters to the much-awaited entrée—the OnePlus 11 series, expected to start from Rs 50,000 (US$605).
But inside OnePlus Boulevard—the smartphone maker’s experience store in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru—there was hardly any enthusiasm about the online launch of the new flagship series until a week ago. Most of the banners inside the one-year-old store—which is also the company’s largest largest ABP News OnePlus Boulevard, The Company's Biggest-Ever Store, Opened In Bengaluru Read more store in the world—still promoted the previous flagship: the OnePlus 10 series. The OnePlus 11 would be available a week after the 7 February launch, store employees told The Ken.
One can tie this apparent lack of marketing for the latest flagship from OnePlus—a brand with a cult-like following in India—partly to a shift in its strategy and fortunes in the market.
For years, especially towards the end of the 2010s, OnePlus dominated the premium-smartphone segment that caters to customers with the highest purchasing power with phones priced above Rs 30,000 (~US$360). Its flagship devices broke broke Counterpoint Research OnePlus Grabs #1 Position in India’s Premium Smartphone Market For the Full Year Read more shipment records and pioneered hardware and software innovations, sometimes making up as much as 40% of the sales in the category.
“It [OnePlus] practically built up the segment,” said a smartphone retailer based in India’s national capital, New Delhi. Between 2016 and 2018, OnePlus grew exponentially to become the biggest brand in India’s premium segment, overtaking US Big Tech Apple and South Korean electronics giant Samsung, showed data from market-research firm Counterpoint Research. In 2019, it became the first first Counterpoint Research OnePlus Grabs #1 Position in India’s Premium Smartphone Market For the Full Year Read more -ever premium-smartphone brand to cross 2 million shipments in a year in the country.
OnePlus is, however, now a distant third behind Apple and Samsung, with the iPhone maker cornering ~60% of the segment that accounted for 11% of 152 million smartphone shipments in the country in 2022.
But OnePlus’s parent, Chinese conglomerate BBK Electronics, is not perturbed by its loss in the premium segment, as it remains the biggest smartphone seller in India.