The Chinese handset maker plans to grow the facility into its biggest R&D centre over the next three years
Early this week Chinese handset maker OnePlus inaugurated its research and development (R&D) facility in Hyderabad, making the city its second home in India. With an investment plan of Rs 1,000 crore, the company estimates that the Hyderabad facility will become its biggest R&D centre globally in the next three years employing 1,500 people against the current strength of 200 people.
The OnePlus R&D centre will house three labs—camera lab, communications and networking labs and automation labs—that will focus heavily on camera development, 5G testing software with a focus on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). “India is our largest and most important market. The potential for growth, expansion and improvement that we see here is huge and Hyderabad is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing markets for OnePlus,’’ Pete Lau, the company’s founder and CEO said. The facility will leverage the experienced talent from Hyderabad, one of the biggest IT hubs in the country and strengthen collaborative partnerships with Google, Qualcomm and Amazon in the R&D facility—all located in Hyderabad. “Our success in India has proven to be a great model for our growth across geographies. With this R&D centre, we are now closer to making India as our second headquarters,’’ he added.
OnePlus considered several critical factors before zeroing in on Hyderabad for the R&D centre. Apart from having some of the most passionate OnePlus community members, the city is also one of the most active startup zones in the country, especially in the space of emerging technologies. It offers a sizeable pool of talent that the global smartphone maker sees great value in deploying and honing to suit the needs of its signature premium consumer experience. “In three years, we plan to grow the new R&D centre in Hyderabad into our biggest globally. We plan to re-focus our R&D efforts on a large scale and drive innovations in India for the global product, especially on the software side with special emphasis on AI, 5G and IoT,” Lau said.
“Over the last five years, it is through the support of the Indian community that we have become the premium smartphone brand in the country. This influenced our decision to develop this R&D centre in Hyderabad,’’ he said. “With the launch of this centre, we take our commitment to the Indian market to the next level. The development is three-phase which includes expanding the Made-in-India concept; investing heavily in employing Indian talents; and strengthening India as an innovation hub for domestic and global markets,’’ he added.
The R&D facility will focus on five areas including network, global carrier customisation, OxygenOS native apps, global product development, software innovation and finally, testing. The centre will specifically work on the development of India-specific OxygenOS features including OnePlus app design and development and drive 5G enablement for regions such as India, EU and the UK as the work on 5G started three years ago for smartphones. “We plan to invest Rs 100 crore for the 5G lab besides expand to software development and innovation for our global products,’’ said Lau.
India is also one of the biggest markets for OnePlus and benchmark for creating globally successful products. With a growth rate of more than 100%, the country is well on its way to becoming a centre for product innovation. It has already upgraded to local production of PCBs as well as other smartphone components and will continue to look at further plans as the government announces the next wave of localisation.
Having started operations in 2014 in India, OnePlus has found a position among the top 10 brands and has gained a marketshare of over 35%. Incidentally, India is still underserved for the premium category. The company has plans to launch more meaningful innovative products to cash in on the opportunity and export from India to global markets. In the next three years, Hyderabad will become the biggest facility and exports are expected to start from India by end of this calendar year as OnePlus expands the Noida facility for manufacturing. To strengthen its roots further, the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) working president KT Rama Rao made a pitch for a manufacturing facility in Telangana and the company is deliberating on the same and initiating the first round of talks for land.