Did you really think Xiaomi is the biggest company in terms of smartphone sales in India? I can only chuckle at your current predicament. Guess who’s the actual leader? BBK electronics of course. Confused? Read on!
BBK Electronics is a tech conglomerate based in China that started out making MP3 and DVD players. Their first foray into the smartphone space was through a company christened “Oppo”. Sound familiar? Right after Oppo was established, BBK found it quite difficult to expand internationally. This was at a time when iPhone production at Foxconn production houses was such a huge job generator for the Chinese population. Ironically, iPhone knock-offs that ran Android were a dime a dozen. Hoping to capitalize on this market, Oppo started launching phones that were aesthetically similar to iPhones, and it worked!
With the revenue they raked in using these smartphones, BBK decided to push in all these assets into research and development. A move that solidified Oppo’s presence in the Chinese smartphone market. It was around this time that Vivo (another subsidiary of BBK) was established and led to the introduction of the “world’s slimmest phone”, an advancement that led to global media’s attention shifting towards Vivo. After all, these were stunts that companies like Samsung and Apple just didn’t have the time to pour into.
Capitalizing on this void created by Apple and Sammy, Oppo used their R&D team to the fullest by putting out phones like the Oppo N1 (with the motorized primary camera) which caught the international market’s attention. Savvy that this technology has become mainstream today in 2019 huh? Cyanogen OS was another major reason that made the Oppo N1 such a hit amongst the masses. Its privacy-centric and feature-rich take on stock Android was a welcome move, especially with the success of Google’s Nexus line.
BBK now knew where to play their next card. Taking the battle right to Google’s doorstep, BBK electronics launched a new subsidiary called OnePlus under the same men that were instrumental in the integration of CyanogenOS into the Oppo N1. With the launch of the OnePlus One and its quirky sales model through the invite system, OnePlus went on to take the world by storm. This is a story that we’re all quite familiar with, so let’s stop right here.
Let’s shift our focus to India now. India in 2013 was a country ravaged by rebranded Chinese knock-offs marketed by companies like Karbonn and Micromax. With Xiaomi tasting immense success with their unique and feature-rich Redmi line-up through just online sales (a time where the average Indian didn’t shop on e-commerce sites), BBK decided it was time to inoculate OnePlus into the Indian market’s e-commerce space. Rest assured, this move was like a matchstick to kerosene setting off a widespread fan-following that has only grown to date. The absence of major players in the middle-level high-end segment led to OnePlus’s immense success. That, and the usual Indian obsession with numbers and specs of course!
With the premium segment solidified under OnePlus, BBK knew that one swift move with offline marketing would kill companies like Micromax and Karbonn that were surviving on very fragile profit margins from selling rebranded phones. This masterstroke was in the form of Vivo and Oppo. We all know how far these companies took their marketing campaigns. By roping in major A-list Bollywood celebrities for ads, sponsoring the Indian cricket team, funding the IPL, using every available space for advertisements (even restroom walls for god’s sake), and finally, competitive pricing to claw their way to the 3rd and 4th positions of the Indian smartphone market. BBK tapped into the average Indian’s penchant for excesses and flashy lifestyle to truly solidify their presence on our shores.
Once the offline market was solidified, BBK turned their attention towards the online market which was now quite mature. Obviously, their major competitor here was Xiaomi and the success of their unchallenged Redmi lineup. Along came Realme. Yet another subsidiary meant for the budget e-commerce market. Guess what? EVEN REALME WAS A SMASHING SUCCESS STORY.
So why is all this significant? Why does everything that BBK touches, turn to gold? Well for starters, when you combine the sales share of Oppo, Vivo, Realme, and OnePlus in the Indian market, the sum-total overtakes the sales of the current market leader – Xiaomi. Though Xiaomi has us all under the spell that it is the single largest smartphone manufacturer in India (which is the truth), BBK played us all right from the beginning.
By diversifying their product lineup across different sub-brands they’ve essentially diversified their product line up across different sub-brands that each represents different budget categories. In the long run, this will help them in not cannibalizing their own product lineup, something that Xiaomi is struggling with. With too many options across the same budget range, Xiaomi has now started confusing buyers, whilst BBK is silently capitalizing on Xiaomi’s pandemonium.
So, all hail India’s true smartphone monarch, BBK electronics! We hope you liked this article as much as we had fun compiling it! If you like pieces like this, be sure to let us know in the comments below so that we can serve you better. 🙂