Phone and device manufacturer Oppo is declaring its New Zealand channel fully mature and primed to attack emerging 5G opportunities.
"We just recently signed up an agreement with Harvey Norman directly, so as of the start of the year we now have 100 per cent channel penetration with retail," said Morgan Halim, Oppo New Zealand's managing director.
That retail penetration was matched in the telco market at the end of May when Oppo released its 5G-ready Find X2 series and signed-up Vodafone NZ as a telco partner on top of Spark and 2degrees.
The Find X2 Lite is priced a shade under $800 to make premium 5G services accessible to all Kiwis, Halim said.
Oppo had been working on its channel for three and a half years, but needed to build its capability to serve major partners fully. Two recent local account manager hires have enabled that, said Halim.
"Three and half years was a long time to get 100 per cent but we are happy to be here now," he said.
That also gave Oppo NZ the capacity to look beyond traditional retail channels and look at the fleet and commercial markets with operators.
Both the Find X2 line and also the $499 A72 were Android enterprise recommended, so organisations can use the Google mass deployment system, Halim said.
"We're quite excited about that because it's always been an Apple game and Samsung is very good with its Knox system" he said.
"To have a 'good, better, best range' that is compatible with the system, we are quite excited about being able to offer that to the market."
Unpredictable US sanctions are a possible wildcard, but so far they appear to have mainly affected Huawei, which has been preparing its own operating system and investing in its own chip-making capabilities in response.
"What we are doing is to continue to focus on what we want to do in the market, to deliver a great product but also to deliver great service as well," said Halim.
US-based chip maker Qualcomm continued to be a top partner along with the likes of Taiwan's Mediatek, Ericsson and Nokia.
"We work closely with them and continue to do so. We have been for a long time."
5G was a hot topic, Halim said, and Oppo aimed to be a key partner for 5G technologies.
"This is not about how can we sell the most 5G products," Halim said. "It's about how we can help the telcos at the moment where they are deploying 5G to be accessible to them for testing and support and research and development as well."
Also, in previous waves of 3G and 4G, the initial devices were very high-end and unobtainable.
"What we are trying to do differently is ask: 'What is the right thing to do for the customer and what is the right thing for the operator?'"
So while there was a premium phone in the line-up, there was also one at a mid-range price point to make sure people who would like to test and try 5G can do so without spending "big bucks".
"We want to make it affordable because that way more people are going to try the technology, more people will be able to experience it and hopefully we can get a better insight of how we can utilise the technology.
"At the moment the use case is very limited because like anything new you need to have mass deployment to be able to get more use cases out of it."
That also helps to ensure the operator gets return on their network investment.
"We want to make sure that the technology is accessible to everybody," Halim said.
Halim, whose career had been almost entirely in retail with Bond & Bond and The Warehouse Group, took the reigns at Oppo NZ in time to accept Consumer NZ's award for the top mobile brand in January.
He replaced Kevin Cho, who is now running the company's UK business.