Oppo’s Michael Tran on Flipping the Script With the Company’s Latest Phone

oppo recently announced that it is new Find N2 Flip The phone will hit the Australian coast on March 16 (pre-orders start March 2) for an MSRP of AUD$1,499. It’s the company’s first foldable device available outside of the Chinese market, and it’s the Flip does Having competition, it wants to stand out with its seamless fold, its vertically oriented 3.26-inch coverage screen and its large 4300 mAh battery, among other things.

I sat down with Oppo Australia CEO Michael Tran during this year’s Mobile World Congress to learn a little more about Oppo and the Flip.

IGN: Tell me about Oppo’s beginnings in the Australian market.

Michael Tran: We started on the Australian market in 2014… [and] Within two years we became number three. When we started I would say the only thing I really focused on was building the brand in one place. So when I say that [I mean] it wasn’t an attempt to be everything for everyone. When we came out we focused on fashion, we focused on our target group which is women…that was our target group in China so the devices were made in this particular way like gold phones and pink and rose gold. Mint devices.

Things started to change for us when we got into carriers – like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, and that’s when the brand really took off. We have positioned ourselves as premium with no price tag. It was [about] to have all the bells and whistles and make it as affordable as possible and really increase our brand share.

We have positioned ourselves as premium with no price tag.

And after that we started to focus on the mid to high end price range. We launched the Find X series in Australia, which is… our flagship. But the only thing about Oppo was that our flagship device was no ordinary thing where we launched a new flagship every year. So it was very difficult for us to build in that momentum [our] Brand because consumers didn’t expect there to be another Find series next year.

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But I think now Australian consumers have seen in the Australian market over the past few years how Oppo has really taken that entry-level spot and is now pushing into that premium price range. We’ve won the Canstar Awards a few times, the WhistleOut Awards, so Australian consumers Do know us, but really in the entry-level segment, and now we’re trying to get into the premium class [market].

I think the Find N2 Flip will give us that opportunity [for consumers] to really say, ‘Hey, this is a brand I’ve used before, now they have this great new device.’ It’s probably a good opportunity and timing for us to launch this device, because yes, candy bars have been the form factor for the past few years, but perhaps flipping and folding will become the norm in the years to come. So who will be the first to bring this to market? So you’re front and center and we’re one of the few brands trying to do that now. I am really convinced of this product.

IGN: So why this phone and why debut a foldable device internationally now?

Michael Tran: The previous phone we launched that was a foldable device was the Find N. And that was only…launched in the Chinese market. I guess the reason for that is, you know, it’s our first form factor device and we want to make sure it really is a great product before we release it internationally. So when we got the opportunity to launch the Flip in other markets, I jumped at the opportunity and said yes immediately because Australian consumers are craving this new form factor device and I felt it was the right time to bring this product to the bring to market. Knowing that the team put so much effort into R&D and looking at all the pain points, you know, with one [high capacity] battery [through to] the cover screen on the front. All the other competitors have a horizontal screen, but for us it’s a vertical one, so it’s easier to use and… we’re working with app developers at the moment, at Spotify and hopefully other app developers [who’ll] come on board and help us… [expand the selection of widgets].

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IGN: What does this R&D process look like?

Michael Tran: We’ve been working on it since 2018, spending 10% of our total global budget on research and development only. And that’s pretty important to us…especially as we moved into the 5G and 6G space; We invested quite a lot of money to really work in this area. And actually at the end of this year we’ll probably have Inno Day, which is what we do every year, to talk about our upcoming products, what we’ve been working on for the past few years, and to showcase things like fast charging. Last year at MWC we showed 150-watt charging capabilities – you can charge a phone from zero to 100 percent in nine minutes. [Fast charging] is something Oppo is really known for.

We spend 10% of our total global budget on research and development only.

IGN: What do you think are the most important things that Aussies will get excited about about the flip?

Michael Tran: The seamless crease is one thing…the other thing I think is the cover screen – other competitors out there have the horizontal screen, as I mentioned, but we have a 3.2-inch vertical screen, which is one is the largest on the market. And the other thing, as I mentioned, is the battery – with fast charging, a bigger battery than any other on the market also helps. These are the things I think consumers will pay attention to when looking at the form factor, especially the flip type of devices.

IGN: What do you think the next big things in the mobile world will be?

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Michael Tran: I think mobile will see 6G coming in the next few years, which will be really interesting. I would say that the form factor can change again. You’ve seen us in particular – and I’ve seen other brands do the same – but rollable devices have come out. So you can think about how compact a rollable device would be. Can this also be transferred to wearables and mobile devices? These are just things that will naturally happen in the future. But yeah, it’s hard to say… coming back to Oppo, we’ll always be working on new, newest and greatest and craziest ideas, but are we bringing them to market? I’m not sure – is the consumer ready for this? For us, it’s all about timing because we’re not the kind of brand that gives up – just let’s release a product to release and it doesn’t go well.

You can Learn more about the Find N2 Flip Here. Cam Shea attended Mobile World Congress as Oppo’s guest.


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