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Chinese Smart Device Brand OPPO Launches Startup Accelerator Programme In India

Chinese Smart Device Brand OPPO Launches Startup Accelerator Programme In India

Global smartphone and accessories brand OPPO’s India entity has launched an accelerator programme called Elevate to ‘promote technology and innovation’ by engaging with early-stage startups in the country.

With the programme, the Chinese consumer electronics giant hopes to accelerate innovation in India and mentor startups that can bring in significant technological changes in the field of consumer electronics.

The programme is focused on startups in the field of image processing, battery tech, network systems, payments, AI, gaming etc.

OPPO Elevate: Key Details

OPPO’s new program will provide early-stage startups with advice and mentorship, support and opportunities to leverage OPPO’s products and resources, including distribution channels. 

As part of the program, the company will work with incubators, entrepreneurs and industry experts to provide a platform for startups to skill-up and grow. 

The brand has a focus on startups that work in the areas of camera and image processing, battery, 5G network systems, system performance, payments, artificial intelligence and gaming: technologies that could improve OPPO’s current product offerings. 

It also has collaborations with the Kerala and Telangana state governments and non-governmental organisations such as the United Nations Development programme to foster innovations in technology.

Smartphone Market Maturation, Saturation and Consequent Diversification

OPPO is one of the six largest smartphone manufacturers in India, capturing close to 10% of India’s smartphone market. The biggest brands in the country continue to be Chinese Xiaomi which makes up close to 25% of smartphone sales and South Korean Samsung, which makes up around 20% of smartphone sales. 

The global smartphone market is saturated and mature. Innovations in smartphone technology have plateaued in such a way that there are very few differentiators between competing products. Due to this, manufacturers are struggling to integrate meaningful innovations into their products.

The mature market also means that smartphones have gotten more reliable, and people are replacing their phones much less often than they used to. In 2014, the average smartphone replacement cycle was 23.8 months, with that number expected to reach 33.6 months by the end of this year

Due to this saturation in the market, companies involved in manufacturing smartphones have been going through a transformation phase where they build out an entire ecosystem of products that work well with their smartphones. 

The best example of this is the company that pioneered the concept: Apple.  In 2021, the Cupertino-based tech giant made close to 11% of its revenue from wearable, home and other devices segment which include Apple Watch, AirPods and HomePods.  

This changing consumer technology market demands agility, inventiveness and relentless innovation from manufacturers: qualities that are hard to reproduce for large corporations like OPPO, which hires more than 40,000 people around the world.

Corporate Accelerator Programs For Fostering Innovation: A Growing Trend 

OPPO won’t be the first company looking to tap into startup innovations by beginning a corporate accelerator program. In 2019, Indian telecom giant Airtel had rolled out its accelerator program for startups in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning. 

Similarly, several Indian banks, conglomerates have introduced incubators and accelerators in the last few years. Besides, we have seen a rising trend of traditional businesses acquiring startups to innovate their existing businesses or to add/introduce new products. Reliance and Tata are the most significant examples of the same. 

Reliance alone has acquired and funded more than 20 startups and also runs an accelerator programme called ‘GenNext’. 

Even big tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and the likes have different programmes aiming at Indian startups. 

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