OnePlus to narrowly miss India smartphone sales target

(Reuters) - Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus will miss its target of selling 1 million handsets in India in 2015 - its first year in the country - but not by much, a company executive said.

Handout photo of the OnePlus X phone. REUTERS/OnePlus/Handout

OnePlus’s high-spec mid-range phones have proven to be a hit, but supply chain issues have limited the company’s ability to take a bigger share of one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets.

Even so, India accounts for more than a third of the company’s annual sales.

“In the initial two months, we weren’t able to get stock, due to which we lost almost 6-8 weeks of sales,” Vikas Agarwal, general manager of the company’s India operations, told Reuters.

The company, which sells premium phones at less than half the price of top-end handsets by Apple Inc AAPL.O and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd 005930.KS, launched OnePlus 2 in July and received 5 million registrations globally.

To smooth supply channels and cut production costs, OnePlus entered into an agreement with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd 2354.TW in October to manufacture phones in India, joining the likes of Gionee and Xiaomi.

But OnePlus’ plans to start selling made-in-India phones by the end of this year will be pushed back slightly due to delays in receiving required certification.

Phones made at the Foxconn facility in SriCity, a special economic zone near the southern Indian city of Chennai, are now expected to go on sale by mid-to-late January, Agarwal said.

Manufacturing in India will help OnePlus and its rivals avoid import taxes and plays into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans to reboot manufacturing in the country.

The Foxconn agreement allows for a peak production capacity of 500,000 phones per month.

Agarwal declined to forecast a sales target for India for 2016 but said it would certainly exceed one million.

Founded by Chinese entrepreneur Pete Lau, a former vice president at smartphone maker Oppo, OnePlus started selling phones in India in December last year.


Agarwal, sporting a white T-shirt emblazoned with the OnePlus tagline “Never Settle”, spoke extensively about the company’s marketing plans in India.

OnePlus ran a unique one-day marketing blitz on Tuesday that allowed people to order phones through Indian cab-hailing app Ola.

The company plans to roll out more such marketing initiatives, said Agarwal, who joined OnePlus in October last year.

An alumnus of Harvard Business School, Agarwal previously worked at Ivanhoé Cambridge India, a unit of Quebec’s public pension fund manager Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.

The OnePlus office in Bengaluru occupies half the floor of a building that overlooks a park and boasts a corner office with a great view.

The corner office isn’t Agarwal’s.

It is used by all 20 employees in the office, and by the office puppy - a three-month-old golden retriever called Laila.

Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty