Vodafone teams up with a China-based smartphone vendor not called Huawei

Vodafone formed a partnership with Oppo that will enable it to sell 4G and 5G smartphones from the China-based manufacturer in seven of its retail markets from May 2020.

Specifically, Vodafone will sell entry-level and flagship Oppo devices in Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the UK during the first phase of the cooperation. The partners then plan to extend their collaboration into more markets.

For Vodafone, the partnership appears to be designed to help accelerate 5G takeup through the expansion of its device portfolio, offering Oppo A series, Reno and Find X devices. Oppo, meanwhile, gains a new route into European markets that will enable it to build market share, at the expense of rivals such as Huawei.

Oppo is part of the BBK Electronics group that also includes sister brand Vivo. According to IDC, Oppo was the fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer in terms of global market share in the fourth quarter of 2019, with an 8.3% share. Apple was in first place with a 19.9% share, followed by Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi.

The rankings shift slightly when looking at 5G alone. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung was the market leader here in the first quarter of 2020, followed by Huawei and Vivo. Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said that Chinese smartphone vendors captured 61% of top five vendor 5G smartphone shipment volumes in Q1 2020, although the majority were sold in the Chinese market.

Oppo and Vivo could gain market share at the expense of Chinese rival Huawei, which has particularly suffered from the negative media over potential security threats from China-based vendors. Huawei's new 5G devices also lack the full range of Google mobile services and apps. Furthermore, Oppo and Vivo could appeal to consumers who may not even realize they are Chinese brands. Vodafone certainly seems to be betting on that fact.

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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