Chinese premium smart phone maker OnePlus has announced a Rs 1,000-crore investment plan to develop its biggest global R&D Centre in Hyderabad over a period of next three years.
Formally inaugurated today in an owned premises at a tech park close to the Financial District, the unit will gradually increase its headcount to 1,500 people from the present 200, while undertaking core innovative work across different technology components, besides leading the development of the Oxygen OS platform that runs OnePlus phones.
OnePlus founder and CEO Pete Lau, who came down to Hyderabad for the launch of the R&D facility, also said that the company would begin exporting the India-made OnePlus products to the US and the European Union countries from the current calendar year.
The smart phone maker currently operates five R&D centres -- three in China and one each in Taiwan and the US, with Shenzen facility being the largest among them.
Terming India as a second home, Lau said the Hyderabad unit will eventually become the largest of all as the company plans to drive the innovation and product development on software front for the global requirements from here.
"When I visited Hyderabad last year, the city evoked the same feeling that Shenzen gave me ten years ago. It is a modern city with a lot of energy, market potential and human talent," Lau, who is viewed as a poster boy of technology start-ups back in China, said in response to a question as to why OnePlus selected Hyderabad for its R&D plans.
The new R&D facility will have OnePlus's first Camera Lab, a Networking and Communication Lab centred on 5G technology among five focus areas, including product development and testing. "Many companies have their R&D centres to provide support services required in product development etc. But our R&D centre in India will do a lot of creative work," Lau said, emphasising on the significance of the India R&D plans in the company's overall product development.
The R&D using the Indian human resource comes as a next logical step for OnePlus, which already operates a smart phone manufacturing plant in Noida. All of the OnePlus products, including the newly launched OnePlus 7 Pro that are sold in India are produced out of the Noida plant.. Within five years of its entry into the Indian market OnePlus emerged as the largest seller of ultra smart phones with a 43 percent market share in the overall smart phone segment in the country.
"This new development is in three phases; One, expanding the 'Made in India' concept. Two, investing heavily in employing Indian talent and three, strengthening India as an innovation hub for domestic and global markets," Lau summed up his vision behind the new investment.
Besides hiring techies with prior experience, the company is looking to acquire 25-40 per cent fresh talent from IITs and IIMs, according to the company officials.
While the OnePlus brand's marketing success in India was largely driven by the on-line sales mode using Amazon's on-line market place, the company management has now embarked up on a big plan to establish its offline foot print across the country to further consolidate its position in India.
According to OnePlus India general manager Vikas Agarwal, the firm is planning to establish offline stores in 50 cities in the next one year in addition to the current base of partner-owned stores, and set up exclusive service centres in 50-100 cities, super experience stores such as the upcoming 16,000 square-foot facility in Hyderabad, in all the big cities within the next 2-3 years.
Lau said he will be coming to Hyderabad again next month as the Telangana government invited him to visit some factories in the city, as it wants him to consider locating the next manufacturing plant here. However he remained non-committal on whether OnePlus has such a proposal at all. "It was Mr K T Rama Rao (former IT minister and son of chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao)'s idea. I have nothing to say on this," he said.