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Exclusive | Oppo reveals plans to develop proprietary mobile chipset

Oppo might join Apple, Samsung, and Huawei as the only smartphone makers with their own system on a chip technology.

Photo source: shutterstock.com

Oppo, the world’s fifth-largest smartphone maker, has announced its development plan to build in-house system on a chip (SoC) technology, joining Apple, Samsung and Huawei in the homegrown chip race. If successful, the strategy will reduce Oppo’s dependence on external electronics companies like Qualcomm, local media outlet 36Kr reported, citing an internal newsletter from Oppo.

On Sunday, the firm revealed initiatives for software development, cloud technology, and a chip-centric strategy dubbed “Marianas Plan,” a codename hinting at the difficulties in building its own top-level chipsets, the 36Kr report wrote. (The name is a reference to Marianas Trench, the world’s deepest trench, located in the Pacific Ocean.)

The plan, which was initiated earlier last year, will be supported by Chen Yan, the head of Oppo’s TMG Technical Committee and former Qualcomm technical director. In addition, experts from Realme and OnePlus, both subsidiaries of BBK Electronics, to which Oppo also belongs, will participate in this project, according to the 36Kr report.

“As Oppo continues its global push, the company will invest in areas like 5G for sustainable development, together with industrial chain partners,” Oppo said in response to this matter. It added that the firm is now focusing on high-quality products as its core strategy.

“Marianas Plan” doesn’t come as a total surprise. Last November, Oppo trademarked its M1 chip, which is a type of auxiliary chip that helps the primary processor in a computer or phone function. One month later, Oppo’s CEO Chen Yongming revealed that his company would invest up to RMB 50 billion (USD 7.1 billion) in research and development in the next three years to enhance core technologies, including self-developed SoC ships.

Currently, the only smartphone companies that have successfully built in-house SoC chips are Apple, Samsung, and Huawei.

As competition around 5G intensifies, proprietary chipsets promise significant advantages, enhancing handset capabilities and reducing a smartphone maker’s reliance on external companies for core technology. However, the required research is significant—in 2014, Huawei released Kirin 920, the start of its Kirin series, developed by the tech titan’s semiconductor division HiSilicon, after years of experimentation.

Oppo is one of Qualcomm’s major customers. The firm’s plan to release its Find X2 smartphone flagship model, which runs on the Qualcomm latest Snapdragon 865 Chipset, has been postponed due to the cancellation of this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

36Kr is KrASIA’s parent company.