Without the “geek” character, how far can Liu Zuohu take OnePlus?

What problems will a company encounter when it changes from “doing nothing” to “not paying attention”?

For Liu Zuohu, the chief product officer of OPPO, who founded the OnePlus brand in 2013, this may have a deep feeling: for a long time, the comments he and other OnePlus executives and OnePlus officials have posted on Weibo are almost all of them. It is a large number of self-proclaimed OnePlus users or netizens who question and accuse OnePlus.

Even, even recently announced the release time of OnePlus 9RT through Weibo – as the first new product after OnePlus’ return to OPPO, Liu Zuohu personally played to warm up and undoubtedly had high hopes for this, but it was still subject to many “can’t look directly” comments. Captured, few people care about the upcoming OnePlus 9RT new product.

“If speed has a name, it must be the speed of abandoning old users.”

“Does the speed mean that the old flagship was abandoned by the speed of light?” “The speed of light throws the flagship every year.”

“It’s really disappointing, let’s work hard on this broken system, it’s useless to charge three times a day.”

“One plus mobile phone is strong! It took 4 months to encounter 17 bugs! After three months of post-sales, I admitted that there was a problem and let me flash the phone.”

Netizens’ long-term “bad comments” on OnePlus have also attracted the attention of “New Weekly”. On September 18, “New Weekly” stated on the official Weibo with the title “What “evil” did OnePlus do in 2021?]: OnePlus COO Liu Fengshuo announced on Weibo that OnePlus 7, System update push time for old models such as 8 series. Unexpectedly, this Weibo comment area received more than 1,000 negative comments from users.

Without the “geek” character, how far can Liu Zuohu take OnePlus?

As we all know, OnePlus succeeded in getting out of the circle with its “no sooner” extreme customer setting, and opened the door to the European, American and Indian markets, and gained a large number of fans. At the end of 2020, in the face of changes in the overseas market, Liu Zuohu set two goals for OnePlus, one big and one small. The big goal is to be No. 1 in the domestic online high-end market in 2021; Be the first in the world.

Entering 2021, OnePlus experienced a major accident that was fully merged by OPPO in June this year. Liu Zuohu never mentioned the original grand goal, but in the face of so many users’ righteous indignation, has OnePlus lost its “unwilling” extreme customer design? How far can Liu Zuohu, the “Boss”, lead OnePlus to go?

01

The lost “geek” character

On the surface, the frequent venting of users on major platforms is directly related to the too many “saucy operations” of OnePlus in 2021. But at a deeper level, it is the “geek”, “elite”, “enthusiast” and other characters that OnePlus has worked hard to create for itself over the years. After the products and reputation cannot keep up with the expectations of users, the characters are difficult to support and face “collapse”. Danger.

“Similar to the number of fans in the geek circle, Liu Zuohu put forward the concept of ‘Never Settle’ for OnePlus. Its mobile phone products downplayed configuration and performance, and emphasized design and experience. Initially, they used the invitation code mechanism to purchase and other marketing methods to shape The high threshold of the product and the hard-to-find attributes of a product make it a representative of ‘small and beautiful’, giving so-called elite users great psychological satisfaction.” said a senior mobile phone industry observer.

The “geek” and “elite” character design is the key to OnePlus’ winning the recognition of some users in the domestic and overseas markets over the past few years. However, with the development of the smart phone market, user needs are not only satisfied by simple “personal design”, but also have higher and higher comprehensive requirements for the product quality and reputation of the brand.

Judging from the long-term “horrific reviews” of users, OnePlus has “fallen up” in terms of product quality and reputation.

As early as the beginning of January this year, many OnePlus 7 Pro users reported the issue of hydrogen OS on Liu Zuohu’s Weibo. , mainly for the domestic market, the overseas version uses Oxygen OS (oxygen OS).

Success is also hydrogen OS, failure is also hydrogen OS. This ROM designed with a simple concept was very popular at first, but due to its simplicity, as well as many bugs and problems, many users were gradually dissatisfied with the hydrogen OS, and even considered it to be a hindrance to OnePlus.

In the face of many complaints, OnePlus finally compromised. On March 23 this year, Liu Zuohu posted that the OnePlus 9 will be equipped with OPPO’s ColorOS system when it leaves the factory, and the previous old models will also be maintained and updated. In contrast, the ColorOS system is more stable and rich.

On March 28, the OnePlus community announced that the ColorOS 11 early adopter version of the OnePlus 8 series will be released at the end of June 2021, and the OnePlus 7 series will be released in September. And on May 18, the early adopter version of the OnePlus 8 series was released in advance.

This also announces the official farewell of OnePlus and hydrogen OS. However, all the users of old OnePlus models who have been waiting for it are waiting for “promise” gaffes and delayed system updates.

In August, OnePlus said that due to data compatibility issues between hydrogen OS and ColorOS, the announcement of the official version of the three models of OnePlus 8 phones was delayed until the first quarter of 2022.

On September 1, OnePlus COO Liu Fengshuo announced on Weibo that the ColorOS public beta version of the OnePlus 8 series will be released in early 2022, and the stable version will be released in the first half of 2022. In addition, the OnePlus 7 series will release the public beta version in mid-2022, and the stable version will be released in the second half of 2022.

The time for this statement is again later than the previous commitment.

“A mobile phone can be used for up to two or three years. The OnePlus 7 was released in 2019, and the system will not be updated until the second half of next year. How many users can afford to wait?” “This is how he described his inner feelings: old users were ruthlessly abandoned by OnePlus.

From what we know, this is the common thought of a large number of OnePlus 7 and OnePlus 8 series users. What makes these old users complain is that when OnePlus did not keep its promise, when faced with the question of OnePlus 7 series users about whether the early adopter package was also delayed in September, the OnePlus community administrator simply responded with one word – “Yes”.

Not keeping promises, coupled with arrogance, make many old users unhappy. However, users of the OnePlus 9R, which was released in April this year, are not happy. Although the OnePlus 9 is equipped with OPPO’s ColorOS system from the factory, on September 18, according to the ColorOS 12 public beta plan announced by OPPO, the OnePlus 9R upgrade time It is the first half of 2022, which is more than half a year later than the OnePlus 9/9 Pro that can be upgraded in early October in the same series.

To put it simply, the OnePlus 9R, which was originally the most cost-effective and had the most users, will be the last batch to be eligible for the upgrade of the new system.

“Oneplus 9R users are not as good as dogs”, “Oneplus refunds”, “Oneplus 9R has various bugs”. Similar complaints can be seen everywhere in Liu Zuohu and OnePlus official and other executives’ Weibo. It also made the OnePlus 9R drop to 3.3 points in the rating of a certain digital community.

In the eyes of people in the industry, this is also a bit difficult to understand, because compared to other brand models, there are not many OnePlus models. “In addition to nearly 100 mobile phone models, the Hongmeng system can adapt to a variety of terminal devices such as tablets, smart wearables, smart screens, and car phones in a short period of time, but not many OnePlus models can upgrade ColorOS 12 at the same time. The psychology of users is inevitably unbalanced.”

“Overturning” is not only the system update, but also the price of new products on the market and the joint name that OnePlus is best at.

Previously, the OnePlus crossover joint name has always been widely praised. Before the release of OnePlus 9R, OnePlus hyped the OnePlus 9R co-branded Ultraman Tiga, and Ultraman Tiga was even promoted as a product ambassador for OnePlus. However, at the press conference on April 15, there was no Tiga-related element on the OnePlus 9R body, and many “Tiga fans” were deceived.

It is also difficult for the outside world to understand that, also in the price release link of OnePlus 9R, OnePlus even performed mosaic processing on the price in the video – this is almost the first time for all mobile phone products. Some netizens suspect that the video of the conference has been recorded in advance, but the price of OnePlus 9R was temporarily adjusted on the eve of the release, so they decided to code the price on the screen.

As soon as this move comes out, whether the truth is as suspected by netizens will inevitably be scolded, and the test is still OnePlus’s hard-working people-in Zhihu, “What makes you disappointed with OnePlus?” Hundreds of replies , summed up as “people are in danger of collapse”.

02

After OPPO fully merged with OnePlus, it failed to meet expectations?

An industry insider who did not want to be named said that the reason for all this may be directly related to the failure of the merger to meet expectations after OnePlus returned to OPPO.

“Through deeper integration with OPPO, OnePlus will have more resources, bring better products to users, and make the team more efficient, such as faster and more stable system updates.” June 16 this year , Liu Zuohu released an internal email saying that the OnePlus team and the OPPO team will be fully merged, and OnePlus will become an independent brand operated by OPPO.

The industry is not surprised by this – since last year, news of Liu Zuohu’s return to his old club OPPO has continued, and it was officially confirmed in early September last year: Liu Zuohu, as the senior vice president of OPPO, will be fully responsible for the planning and experience of OPPO’s product line. At the same time, Liu Zuohu’s identity as CEO and founder of OnePlus remains unchanged.

In 1998, Liu Zuohu joined OPPO after graduating from university and served as OPPO’s development minister, general manager of the Blu-ray business department, and marketing director. In the media description, he is the hero of OPPO’s launch of OPPO Find 5 and OPPO N1, and is also the first executive of OPPO to “touch the Internet”.

In 2013, when traditional mobile phone manufacturers such as Huawei Honor, Lenovo ZUK, Gionee IUNI, and ZTE Nubia were testing the Internet with sub-brands, Liu Zuohu received a call from OPPO CEO Chen Mingyong, saying that they wanted to create a new brand. It’s up to him.

In November of that year, Liu Zuohu announced his resignation from OPPO and soon founded OnePlus. He left OPPO and founded OnePlus together with Liu Fengshuo, who is in charge of research and development, Hu Liang, who is in charge of domestic marketing, Zhang Xuan, who is in charge of products, and Pei Yu, who is in charge of overseas marketing.

Over the past 8 years, Liu Zuohu has lived up to expectations and built OnePlus into a uniquely recognizable mobile phone brand through the concept of “not going ahead”. The market has performed well.

In fact, although OnePlus has always emphasized that “it is not an OPPO subsidiary”, from the perspective of start-up capital, equity control, founding team, supply chain and production line, OnePlus and OPPO are inseparable.

For example, from the perspective of product production, the OnePlus production line has always been OPPO’s production line in Chang’an Town. From the point of view of the supply chain, the two sides have been sharing the supply chain. From a capital perspective, OnePlus and OPPO share a common controlling shareholder, and OPPO CEO Chen Mingyong owns 74% of OnePlus.

Since OnePlus is not independent of OPPO from all angles, and OPPO wants to compete in the high-end market, it is inevitable that OnePlus will merge into OPPO.

Regrettably, judging from the current merger effect, for OPPO, the overall competitiveness improvement is not obvious, and for OnePlus, it has not enjoyed more resources and capabilities of the parent company OPPO, ushering in new strategic development. For the latter, although the original system team of OnePlus has been integrated with the ColorOS team, the final upgrade or adaptation to ColorOS of OnePlus’ major models is the best proof.

At the same time, OPPO, which is hitting the high-end market, has recently suddenly spread “slimming rumors”. A number of media such as AI Finance and Economics reported that OPPO began to lay off staff in July this year, involving multiple departments such as IoT and Internet business, and the average layoff ratio of non-core business departments other than mobile phones reached 20%.

Although OPPO’s official statement that “OPPO has laid off 20% of its employees” is not true, on the workplace social platform Maimai, the topic of OPPO’s layoffs has been a hot topic until the National Day. Some netizens said that OPPO has recently experienced a large number of departures, some of which are Being persuaded by the department, the other part is voluntarily resigning. “After the OnePlus team merged with OPPO, there were already overlapping positions. In addition, OPPO’s ambition to seize Huawei’s high-end market last year and crazy recruitment made the situation of bloated personnel more serious.”

For the merger between enterprises, personnel, business compatibility and departmental structure adjustment are all big problems. For OnePlus and OPPO, since the mobile phone market has already entered the stock market from the original incremental market, when the competition of high-end models gradually becomes homogenized, the conflict between OnePlus and OPPO is inevitable, just like the high-end battle between Huawei and Honor. Similarly, whether it is resource allocation or market goals, there will always be conflicts and contradictions that are difficult to reconcile.

03

OPPO + OnePlus, can it be greater than 2?

“The battle between the OnePlus digital series and OPPO’s high-end flagship Find series may be an important aspect of OPPO’s next stage of development.” An industry insider said that from the OnePlus 1 generation and the Find series in the same line of style design, OnePlus has Like a sequel to the Find series.

For example, the OnePlus 9 series and the OPPO Find X3 series released this year have the same price, similar design and configuration, but from the point of view of user selection, they are similar. Suspected of ineffective internal competition.”

“How to integrate the two, there is still no clear strategy internally.” On September 27, the “Economic Observer” also reported that OnePlus insiders were quoted as saying.

Today, Liu Zuohu no longer mentions the big goal of “one plus will be the first in the domestic online high-end market in 2021”. Instead, from the perspective of OPPO’s internal statement, a consensus has been revealed: focusing on mid-to-high-end products Plus, it will become a pawn for OPPO to hit the high-end market.

“Currently, there are only two high-end brands in the domestic smartphone market, Apple and Huawei, and OPPO hopes to become the third.” At the OPPO autumn new product launch conference, OPPO Vice President Liu Bo officially announced that OnePlus will be fully integrated with OPPO, and will form a dual-brand dual-flagship combination with itself to hit the high-end market together.

In terms of time, OPPO has been hitting the high-end mobile phone market for a long time – as early as 2011, OPPO launched the first Find series to lay out the high-end market. But from the perspective of market share, it has not been able to gain a firm foothold so far.

The latest data from research firm Counterpoint shows that in July this year, Apple’s market share in China’s high-end mobile phones (more than $600) reached 63%, Huawei and vivo tied for second with a 14% share, and Xiaomi ranked third with a 6% share. OPPO’s performance is relatively average, only 1%, which is mainly related to the decline in sales of the Find X3 series released in March this year and the Reno6Pro+.

From the perspective of the price range, with US$600 as the watershed between high-end mobile phones and low-end mobile phones, the market share of high-end mobile phones is occupied by Apple, Huawei and vivo, and OPPO does not take much advantage in this range.

Even if OPPO adds OnePlus, I am afraid it will be difficult to achieve the effect of 1 plus 1 being greater than 2 – although OnePlus has a certain sales volume in Europe, America, India and the domestic market, it is still a “small and beautiful” niche brand. Liu Zuohu once admitted that “breaking the circle” is still the biggest challenge he has to solve.

The bigger challenge is how to “break the circle” while maintaining the extreme customer setting of “not going to make it happen”. This is not easy, such as Hammer and Meizu, the support from fans far exceeds that of OnePlus, and in the end, because of the exchange of quality for quantity, “small” loses “beauty” at the same time, and finally the road ahead is very busy. A similar situation has been staged many times in the “small but beautiful” mobile phone brand.

This is something to be wary of. Judging from the latest situation, the OnePlus 9RT to be released is still the mid-end market with a price range of 3,000 yuan, which is equivalent to a slightly modified version of the OnePlus 9R. The heat is too low, and it seems that it was released more for Double Eleven sales.

Not surprisingly, 9RT is still expected to upgrade to ColorOS 12 next year. So how much does it help OPPO’s high-end road? It is doubtful.

In fact, the competition in the mobile phone industry is too cruel today, and it has long been a comprehensive game between products, ecological chains, and word of mouth. When the user experience of the latest models of OnePlus cannot be well served, resulting in a continuous decline in the reputation of “a wave of bad reviews”, can OPPO + OnePlus defeat Apple, Huawei, vivo, Xiaomi, and the fierce glory?

For Liu Zuohu, it may be a pity that, no matter what the outcome of the battle, a cruel fact is inevitable: when OnePlus, which he founded, became a de facto sub-brand of OPPO, there was almost no chance for him to stand on the battlefield. central.

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