Yesterday, news broke that Chinese documents allegedly showed that OPPO owned almost the entirety of OnePlus. Media outlets, along with fans and observers speculated what exactly that meant for the two supposed competitors.
Today, OnePlus emailed us a statement on the situation.
“We understand the confusion as many people are just finding out about OnePlus. But as we’ve said from the beginning, OnePlus is a separately run company that does share common investors with OPPO.
One of those investors is OPPO Electronic. OPPO Electronic is an investment company and is not the same as OPPO Mobile. OnePlus is also in talks with other investors.”
That may be technically correct, but it is safe to assume that OPPO Electronic is also an investor in OPPO Mobile, who is a competitor to OnePlus. It is not unusual for an investment firm to diversify within the same market, but the Chinese media outlet stated that OPPO Electronic made up the entirety of OnePlus’ ownership (the article stated “100%”) that would make it unusual, especially when that investment firm shares its namesake with a competitor.
But unusual doesn’t necessarily mean dishonest. OnePlus stated that they are “in talks with other investors.” It is entirely possible that former OPPO Executive and OnePlus founder Pete Lau, simply convinced OPPO Electronic that investing in a company that does things differently, the way he wanted to do them, would be a good investment.
I’m not suggesting that is what happened, I honestly don’t know. I’m just laying out an alternative possibility to the “they lied to us” narrative that has developed around this story. OnePlus may still turn out to be more than OPPO’s version of Toyota’s Scion.
When multiple outlets reported on the Chinese news story, they all parroted the same line about Pete Lau consistently denying an OPPO connection in the past. I did not report on that because I know Google Translations can be tricky and I couldn’t independently verify it. In fact, looking at the media reports during the creation of OnePlus, some speculated that OPPO would help manufacture OnePlus’ first device, indicating that the two companies were always close.
It is possible that Lau denied the connection in the Chinese media, but I have not been able to find any statements where he emphatically stated that OPPO and OnePlus have no connection.
The bigger question is, should we care? A flagship quality phone for $299 is still a flagship quality phone for $299, regardless of who bankrolled it.