The History of BBK Electronics – Parent Company of OPPO, OnePlus & Vivo Electronics

by Vishal Toshiwal 8

Are you familiar with Volkswagen Group? It is an automaker and one of the largest auto giants in the world, who has their best selling passenger cars as well as has other brands like Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lambhorghini, Porsche, Skoda and many more. Why I’m giving you an example of an automaker on a story about an electronics company? Well, just like the VW Group, BBK Electronics is a giant group, which holds three brands under its name, technically OPPO and Vivo are parts of BBK, while the OnePlus is a wholly owned subsidiary of the OPPO.

So, why an electronics company have three different brands under its name? How do they come to be in existence? What are their plans with it? We explain all in this story about the BBK Electronics.

What is BBK Electronics?

BBK Electronics Corporation is a Guangdong based consumer electronics manufacturer with their headquarters and production base in Chang’an, Dongguan. It is said to be the highest contributor to the tax money in Chang’an and thus you can see the introduction of the company listed at people’s government of chang’an town. The company came into existence in the year of 1995 and month of September. According the listing of government website it has manufacturing factories spread in 10 Hectares of land and employees more than 17,000 people. It has different branches that cater to myriad of businesses that are operational all over the world.

The listing also claims that BBK has two branches and one subsidiary under its name, where it does business in research, production and sale of educational electronics product such as learning machines, language repeaters, electronics dictionary, reading machines, etc. They also manufactured landline and cordless phones at that time. It has Blu-ray Disc players, headphones and headphone amplifiers that comes under the OPPO digital division. While when it comes to smartphones, it has three brands OPPO, Vivo and OnePlus that serves as phones manufacturer.

Note that the brands stated below are in accordance with their timeline.

Number of Employees - OPPO, Vivo & OnePlus

OPPO

Birth

First brand that came into existence was the OPPO Electronics, its major product lineup includes more than just smartphone, it manufactures Blu-ray players and Universal DVD player as well. The company was founded in 2004 and Tony Chen who is the current CEO of the company is listed as the corporation, which is actually a subsidiary of the BBK Electronics. Company entered the mobile phone market in the year of 2008 and just within five year it was reportedly the second most profitable company in China in 2013 among the players like ZTE, Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi.

OPPO Mobile Logo

Oppo Digital an independently operating division of OPPO Electronics was setup in the United States in California, which is known for offering Up-Converting DVD and Blu-ray Disc players. The first product that they sold was OPPO OPDV971H, which was a Universal DVD player.

Products & Growth

The mobile handset that no one might know that OPPO produced was R819/R819T. While the handsets that you might have heard falls under Find, N and R Series. The N1 was world’s first handset that came with a rotating camera that can be used as back or rear and that’s when the camera dedicated N Series was born in December 2013. After that next year in March, company launched the Find 7a and then Find 7, the later sported the world’s first Quad HD (2560 x 1440) display, which was available in May 2014. Later that year in October, company announced their design focused smartphone, the R5, which was slimmest smartphone of the year measuring just 4.9mm. These series were upgraded in the coming year and thanks to that the brand is listed among the top five smartphone brands in the world, replacing the likes of Lenovo and Xiaomi. Considered as the premium smartphone maker, OPPO relies on the strong offline retailer network it has created in the home country.

The brand started its international expansion in 2010 starting with Thailand, where the brand first announce Find 3 and then later showcased the Find 5, which was followed by the Find 7. In parallel, company expanded its presence in countries like Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and many more regions. Company operates locally in these regions catering the needs according to the audience.

India Presence

OPPO officially entered in India on 27 January 2014, and the Find 7 was the first handset that was launched in the country. The brand then moved to launch several handsets including Mirror 3, N1, N1 Mini, Joy, Joy Plus, Neo 3, R5, R7 and R7 Lite. Recently, company has launched its new series, the F1 and F1 Plus, they are being touted as the Selfie Expert phones; the later handset comes with 16MP front facing module. The brand has been focused in launching premium quality handsets in the country since its official operations. To move forward with its plans in India, they have dedicated a promise to start manufacturing in India under the Make in India campaign run by the Indian government. As per reports, the brand is going to make 10 lakh 4G phones per month at its upcoming facility in Noida, as told by Mike Wang, CEO of Oppo Mobiles India. Company has invested Rs 100 Crore for setting up the manufacturing unit. OPPO has manufacturing partnership with Foxconn in India; Mr Wang confirms that Foxconn will be manufacturing phones for them even after their Noida facility starts production.

Vivo

Birth

Another sub-branded arm of the BBK Electronics, the Vivo was founded in 2009 by Shen Wei, who serves as president and CEO of the company. It has headquarters in Guangdong, China; the company designs, develops and manufactures smartphones, accessories, software and online services. They have research and development center in Shenzhen and Nanjing, where company employees 1600 people as of this year. It was not until 2011 that they started selling their first smartphone, which was a lesser-known handset.

VIVO Make in India

The brand is known to use Hi-Fi Technology, which is short for High Fidelity audio experience. It’s a hardware level technology that company integrates in their handsets, started with at the time world’s slimmest smartphone, the X1, launched in 2012. These Hi-Fi chips are developed by American semiconductor company Circus Logic, which is Vivo’s R & D that works on it to integrate in their smartphones. Before launching X1, company had setup an audio lab in Shenzhen to research on how the Hi-Fi sound can be merged with smartphone technology. The company not only works on hardware, but develops intuitive interactive systems connecting its users and phone. Thus, you can see that brand has their own customized Android-based operating system called Funtouch OS, which offers range of smart features such as Smart Click, Super Screenshot, Smart Wake, Single-handed mode and various other smart features on their handsets.

Products & Growth

Talking about their product range, it is spread among premium offering such as X Series to mid-level offering in the form of V Series, which is a combination of solid specification and attractive price tag. There is a price-conscious Y Series to cater the lower end of the spectrum. After announcing X1, company continued their journey of slimmest handsets in the form of X3S, X5, X5Max and X5Pro. They also introduced two handsets out of which one was focused in offering the best camera quality company have to offer, goes by name Xshot. The second handset named XPlay 3s that was launched in 2013 was more focused for providing best display as it featured Quad HD screen. Company also has Hi-Fi technology enabled headphone, XE800 that are intended for Vivo smartphones.

The Y51 is the most recent handset launched in December 2015 in their lower-end segment, but is still loaded with Smart software Funtouch OS and a host of features such as Smart Wake, Smart Beauty mode, and Smart Click. In their V Series, apart from the popular V1 and V1 Max, the brand has recently upgraded the series with V3 and V3 Max, which is launched in the home as well as international markets as well. Like OPPO, Vivo has expanded into various countries like India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and Philippines. The international path, which was started in 2011, now has seen company certified for operations in over 100 countries.

Total Sales in 2015 - OPPO, Vivo and OnePlus

According to company’s website, they have sold over 25 million in China, which was in 2014, while the growth was at 45 million worldwide sales in 2015. With an average retail price of $300, which might be huge than most of the Chinese companies with an international presence. As you know, Vivo recently breaks into the world’s top five smartphone brands list, as they have registered more than 150% growth in sales.

India Presence

Vivo officially entered in India in December 2014 with world’s slimmest smartphone at time, the X5Max, which was priced quite premium around Rs 32,000. In the short span of less than two years company has launched most of its line-up in country, which counts up to 16 smartphones in India. Spreading in three X, Y and V Series, they offer a wide range of options to Indian audience catering needs such as premium, mid and entry level. The brand is focused in creating a strong retail and after sales network in country to offer their services to most parts of the country. Currently, they have 8000 employees serving Indian customers and a network of 10,000 retailers in over 300 cities in 22 states. Company plans to establish more than 200 exclusive after sales services for their customers by the end of the 2016.

According a report released by Counterpoint Research, as of last year, company has already capture 1% market share in the country, while it is estimated to grow double. As the brand has increased its activities in the country and launching their handset quite quickly. One example is the V3 and V3 Max, which saw the global launch of the handset in the country last month in Mumbai. Alex Feng, the CEO of Vivo India remarks the various partnerships like Viacom18 and IPL, which would lead company to grow to much larger audience in the coming years. Moreover, they have also invested Rs 125 Crore in the “Make in India” campaign run by Indian government. Total 2,200 Indian employees will be working in the Great Noida facility where Vivo phones are set to be manufactured. It will allow company to reach a goal of one million units per month, thus, building solid foundation for company in the country.

OnePlus

Birth

OnePlus, hasn’t been around for long, this young startup was founded on 16th December 2013 by an ex-employee of OPPO Electronics, Pete Lau. The company is based out of Shenzhen, Guangdong and has presence in 43 countries around the world as of March 2016. The co-founder includes Carl Pei. Initially denying the claims that OnePlus is a subsidiary of the OPPO, it was later revealed as per the Chinese government documentation that it is truly the wholly owned subsidiary of OPPO. Thus, technically making it a company owned by BBK Electronics, as OPPO is the sub brand of the Chinese multinational group. In result, OnePlus can be said as the sub-brand of the sub-brand. That’s quite an inception.

OnePlus Logo

While OPPO and Vivo are focused in creating and maintain themselves as premium offline smartphone brands, OnePlus aims to deliver their products via online services. Over the past couple of years of its operations, company has tied up with several online retailers, while the key player for selling their handset being Amazon, when it comes to the sales outside China. In their home country, they sell their products via their website store. Continuing the association of Cyanogen formed when OPPO N1 was loaded with CyanogenMod, OnePlus entered into an exclusive licensing deal with the American software company. This deal later fall apart after the controversy as Cyanogen inked another exclusive deal with Yu Televentures, an Indian smartphone brand, which is the branchild of the Micromax fame Rahul Sharma. It later resulted in creation of Oxygen OS, which is an in house operating system developed by the company. CM was removed from all the old models as an update for Oxygen OS was provided while the new OnePlus handsets saw their custom Android OS out of the box.

Products & Growth

Talking about the products, the first handset, OnePlus One, was launched by the company on April 23rd, 2014; just a couple of months after the company was formed. It aggressive pricing and ground breaking specifications, the company also introduced first its kind invite system to purchase their first handset, it received a lot of heat from the smartphone consumers who wanted to buy their handsets but couldn’t because of the invite system. With the further launch of products the invite system was improved, and in some countries the devices has been made invite-free. Later, the company announced the successor, which was dubbed as “Flagship Killer of 2016”, the OnePlus 2, unveiled in July 2015 in their home country while the international release was in August 2015. The company claimed that their handset is so good that it can compete with the devices that are stated for launch in 2016. Carl Pei, the co-founder seemed more amused by the first 5-inch device which they unveiled on October 29th 2015. The international release of OnePlus X happened on 5th November 2015.

As per the annual report card of 2014 posted by company, they have earned over $300 Million revenue in that year. The company didn’t specify how many handsets they have actually sold, but it has been speculated by reports popping up on internet that number comes up to 1 Million. The top regions accounting their sales include East Asia and Europe as they amounted for 39% and 32% sales of their device in 2014. The brand hasn’t posted anything recently about the sales figures of OnePlus 2 and OnePlus X. Which is why, there are rumors that company has fallen short of their targets for 2015, despite selling out all units in the first batch.

India Presence

OnePlus stepped into India officially in December 2014, which is when the company started selling the OnePlus One in the country via Amazon. Now the 2014 smartphone is also available on Flipkart, another online retailing website in India. Indian audience were among few to enjoy the early availability of new OnePlus products, and that’s what we hope Vikas Agarwal, General Manager of OnePlus India would want to keep active for the upcoming smartphones, as OnePlus 3 is in the making for this year. In terms of the sales India has contributed a lot, while for the first year, the brand has missed their target of selling 1 Million smartphones. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the company is still young and has a long way to go to capture more Indian audience.

Unlike its parent company, OPPO and sibling company (Since it’s a part of BBK Electronics), Vivo, they don’t have any plans to setup manufacturing plans to make phones in India as of now. But when in future the sales figures grow double digits Millions, it can be expected that the young Chinese mobile company would express their interest in “Make in India” campaign.

Vsun Mobile

Birth

Vsun Mobile

Vsun, a mobile manufacturing company, which is registered as Shenzen Vsun Communication Technology Co. Ltd was founded in 2011 Xueying Zhang, who is the Chairman and current owner of the company. Among the key people is the recent hire Haitham Kalakesh, which according to his Bayt profile states that he joined the company in February 2015 as the CEO. Currently, company employs around 600 people. In its early days the brand started its business with the wholesale distribution of electronic parts and communication equipment. Those were the days when Smartphone industry was still in the early stage of growth even in developed countries. The private firm then went to get itself registered globally in the year of 2013. Apart from having a Headquarter in Guangdong, China, the company started a regional headquarters head office in Business Bay, Dubai. In 2015, a LLC was setup under the name of Vsun Electronics Trading, which looks out the operation in UAE and other gulf countries like Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The company has presence in African countries like Egypt, Kenya, Sudan and Nigeria.

The regional headquarters in Dubai was setup due to high demand of their products in all gulf Persian countries. The company has a software design team, R & D facilities and multiple manufacturing units setup all across the regions where they are operating. They go by brand name Vsun Mobility in Dubai and the brand has already received VAR Award in May 2015, which is given for the fastest growing smartphone brand in the UAE. The brand mostly sales its smartphone in gulf countries with partnership with electronic retail stores and hypermarkets. Though, it was recently that company launched their e-commerce store named as Vsunolinec.com in 2016. The brand aims to create a large online presence of the brand in UAE as the online portal will currently ship products to the UAE region only.

Products & Growth

Vsun reportedly entered into the smartphone business in 2011, but didn’t have a smartphone until two years later, when they announced V6 and i5. These two handsets were released in the month of Januray and February during the year 2013. They sported decent set of specification considering the technology at that time in the market. That year they only had two smartphones on sale, but next year the number was increased to 13. They have handsets in Series named H, V, D and L. These four series consisted the handsets ranged from entry-level specs to mid and higher. Though, during their operations in 2014, they had only one model with flagship specification, it was Vsun H9, which sported the full HD display, 2GB of RAM and had 13MP rear module accompanied by a 5MP module on front. Later, next year in early 2015, company announced a large screen variant called H9 Furious. It was the year of phablet, the large screen sized smartphones. In the same year, company announced 11 other handsets, but there weren’t the iterative of the Series of handsets launched a year before that. Instead company seemed to shift its focus on launching completely new handsets.

In 2015, Vsun launched six of those total 12 models at GITEX, Dubai, which kick started the regional expansion in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. During their keynote at Exhibition, company also announced their expansion plans to reach across the MENA regions. This year company has so far launched three handsets, Illusion, RACE and V Touch, out of these three models; two were launched at GITEX Spring Exhibition 2016. The Illusion is a 6-inch phablet offering from company that is priced around $250, while the $200 RACE sports a 5-inch IPS curve display. The main attraction in these two handsets said to be that they are 360 Degree VR Compatible with company’s VR headset.

Yes, the brand has forayed into the Virtual Reality business, but offers only VR compatible with their two handsets. Later, company launched V Touch in April this year and has been available in the UAE since May 2016. It is company’s first fingerprint sensor smartphone that offers intelligent control of the biometric sensor. Company touts that its fingerprint sensor is LED enabled, which will allow to measure hear rate as well. Moreover, with multiple fingerprint app navigation you can use different fingerprints to navigate directly to different apps from lock screen. Isn’t that amazing! They are also planning to launch a 3G/4G enabled tablets in the market and smartphones accessories in the coming months. They have a dedicated Vsun Innovation Labs doing all the research and development for the company. The VLabs will dedicated their time in developing the Virtual Reality content ranging from videos, games and 360 degree animations, as they plan to push content to Vsun customer’s smartphones.

India Presence

Vsun Mobile Private Limited, according to Zauba is a privately held company and is reportedly registered at Regsitrar of Companies, Delhi. The date of corporation is 10th September 2015, making its operation in Indian less than a year old. The listing states that it is involved in manufacturing electrical equipment. Thus, giving a little benefit of doubt that whether the claim of having a manufacturing unit is true or false. Though, it is little hard to digest that a brand, which is hardly known in India has setup a largest factory unit for manufacturing smartphones. It is reported to have 40 assembly lines in the 10 acre of land, which is quite a huge deal. The manufacturing unit has a capacity of producing 40 million devices a year. Vsun’s operations in India are handled by Yao Jinji, Pardeep Jain and Ashish Aggarwal, who are the Directors in the company. As of now, company hasn’t shared any detailed whether they plan to sell their smartphones in India. Moreover, there is currently no India dedicated website from the brand where it’s information can be accessed.

We make Wearables too – XTC

You might have been reading that wearables market is on the rise since these past couples of years, thanks to companies like Fitbit, Apple, and Samsung, who are the top promoters of all things wearables, this arena is also seeing tremendous growth. While it has been considered that Samsung would be in the top five wearables vendors, but did anybody thought, they would be sharing a spot? Well, we didn’t at least. The South Korean giant is sharing a fifth spot with BBK Electronics in the recently released quarterly shipments by IDC, International Data Corporation, which is a market researcher.

According to IDC, the total shipment volumes reached to 19.7 Million units in Q1 2016 compared to 11.8 Million units in Q1 2015, which is a huge jump of 67.2%. What could have caused that kind of jump in the shipments? Well, there is no clear answer but in revolves around post-holiday price reduction of multiple popular wearables such as Apple Watch. While there is a certain Kid’s watch, that can be used as a phone to contact the parents.

It turns out BBK Electronics, who has three smartphones, is also invested wearables market. The company’s smartwatch for kids, XTC Y01, which is priced at 780 Yuan (Approx. $125) has seen more than 700,000 units sale in the home country. As the wearables market grows, China is among the largest contributors to the sales of wearables, as the country has one of the highest wearables consumers. Thus, cashing in the latest trend, the BBK Corporation decided to introduce incredibly resourceful smartwatch for kids. While they’re not as popular as another Chinese firm, Xiaomi, which has Mi Band to thank for their third spot in the list, as the company has sold around 3.7 Million fitness trackers.

IMOO

BBK Electronics, which is practically the largest mobile electronics group has done it again. There is a new brand in town named IMOO, which has launched their first handset GET sporting model number M1000. It is the first of its kind Education focused phone. This brand was first announced by the Chinese group in June this year. Solely established to create educational content based smartphones, the M1000 comes with free education content from 1st to 12th standard, i.e. Primary to High School. It offers a video catalog of 120,000 videos, which can be streamed online. The brand has also tied up with 300 teachers that will help students with their problems regarding academics.

Coming to the talk of why Imoo wants to see a smartphone in hands of each student in China. Well, it is quite simple, the brand is looking to revolutionize the way students learn. While current generation might be aware of the facts how the mobile technology can change the way we learn, the implementation for that hasn’t done by any company at such level where BBK has separately setup a new smartphone brand for its education-focused smartphones business. The device is said to be powered by a custom OS named StudyOS, which is based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which is the latest stable OS at the time of covering this post.

Let’s briefly explore the specifications of the device. The M1000 smartphone from IMOO packs a laser sensor that is specifically designed to scan mathematic equations as well as would help in solving the content as well. You can also expect language translation services too. Since the device is designed for educational consumption; the parents can lock the entertainment apps when they feel too. The hardware specs of the device are pretty standard; it has a 5.5-inch AMOLED 1080p display, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and Helios P10 Chipset at its core. You get 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. It is powered by a 2930 mAh capacity battery.

As far as the availability is concerned, the company is going to stick with its home country, i.e. China. We don’t expect the BBK Electronics to bring this overseas, even if they do, it won’t be anytime soon.

Note: There is not much information available for this new brand of BBK, which is why you don’t see the sections such as Birth, Products & Growth, India Presence for IMOO. Once there is any development or any new information surfaces, you’ll see the article updated.

Vishal Toshiwal

Born in West India, raised in the North and currently chasing dreams in the southern part of India- Vishal is an entrepreneurial spirit, a tech enthusiast and a writer by profession, who is busy taking pictures when he is not writing. He would love to talk to you about the latest movies, TV shows and DC/Marvel comics. As a personal rule, he doesn't let a day get by without at least one dessert. Because, why not?