OPINION: Oppo this week confirmed that, despite winning a patent war with Nokia in France, the company will be ending distribution in the region with immediate effect. Why would a company spend an undisclosed amount in legal fees to battle with another massive company about smartphone patents and then, once the win has been secured, decide not to bother?
It sounds like a massive red flag to me, signalling more than just Oppo’s lack of interest in officially selling its smartphones and other tech in France. In fact, this seems to solidify rumours swirling around earlier this year that suggested both Oppo and OnePlus would be pulling out of the EU market.
Both subsidiaries of global smartphone behemoth BBK intensely denied the rumours at the time, with a joint statement to reassure fans across the UK and mainland Europe that both brands were here to stay, pointing towards early 2023 releases like the OnePlus 11 and Oppo Find N2 Flip.
As the saying goes however, words are one thing, actions are another, and the activities of the two companies haven’t been inspiring since the big launches earlier this year.
Take OnePlus, for example; it refuted the rumours pointing at both the OnePlus 11 and OnePlus Pad by the fact that both are now widely available throughout Europe.
However, more recent releases like the mid-range OnePlus Nord 3 5G are limited to just 16 EU member countries with no release in the UK planned at all – certainly a scaled-back approach compared to the OnePlus Nord 2T that was available in the UK, US and most of Europe in 2022.
Still, at least OnePlus is launching in some parts of Europe – something that can’t really be said for Oppo in 2023.
While Oppo started the year strong with the Find N2 Flip, things have been a little too quiet since. That’s even true of the flagship Oppo Find X6 Pro, which the company has confirmed won’t be coming to the UK or Europe. Again, this is a stark change from the vast availability of the Oppo Find X5 Pro just a year ago.
There has also been a significant slow-down in the number of Oppo releases I’ve heard about in recent months. While the brand has traditionally pumped out smartphones to hit every price point imaginable, that approach is much more limited this year. In fact, the only Oppo release I’ve heard about in recent months is the budget-focused Oppo A78 5G.
There’s also more anecdotal evidence, like the fact that Oppo handsets are no longer front-and-centre in smartphone retailer storefronts, instead relegated to the back of stores, and that’s before mentioning the lack of advertising (in the UK, at least) for Oppo products.
This brings us back full circle to this week’s news about Oppo’s French distribution efforts coming to an end.
This might, on the surface, seem like an easy way to avoid any more issues with Nokia and its patent war – something that’s still very much ongoing in German courts – but to me, it sounds like a convenient way to slink out of the European limelight without causing too much of a scene.
It’ll undoubtedly be an interesting – and telling – few months for the BBK-owned brand, with analysts, journalists and even dedicated Oppo fans likely watching its every step like a hawk.