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OnePlus CEO was vice president at Oppo before he created OnePlus in late 2013. (Picture: AFP)

OnePlus says it’s building a smart TV that may come next year

Will OnePlus attract a loyal following with TVs like the company did with smartphones?

This article originally appeared on ABACUS

For the first time, OnePlus is expanding beyond smartphones.

The Chinese smartphone maker said that it will build a new product -- a OnePlus TV -- “a huge step in the OnePlus journey,” the CEO Pete Lau said.

OnePlus didn’t reveal specs or any details about the upcoming smart TV, but claimed that it will have “premium flagship design, image quality and audio experience”.

OnePlus CEO was vice president at Oppo before he created OnePlus in late 2013. (Picture: AFP)
The Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus is not nearly as big as Apple or its siblings Oppo and Vivo, who are among the world’s five biggest smartphone vendors, but it appears to have gained a loyal following that’s rare among Android device makers: People traveled across cities and lined up for hours to buy a phone, and its latest handset (the OnePlus 6) sold 1 million models in just over three months.

It’s done so by focusing on making flagship smartphones that pack power and sleek designs at a friendly price, carving out a niche from its bigger competitors. But now with the TV promise, it’s apparently joining others in expanding their product lines.

OnePlus 6 review: Dollar-for-dollar, the best value in smartphones

Xiaomi TVs have been a hit in India, and the company uses its ecosystem to expand into other sectors. And Vivo has also announced a big push into smart home -- even though its hyped vision was questioned by state media.
Still, it’s not always a guarantee of success. Take LeEco, the Chinese tech and entertainment giant which tried to sell people on a grand vision where they’d sell you a smartphone, a TV, and a TV subscription to watch content like the English Premier League. But it overreached, pulled out of several markets and needed a cash injection from companies including Tencent and TCL.

One analyst told us that Chinese TV vendors are globally competitive because of their wide range of products and cost-effectiveness. IDC analyst Sophie Pan said “The traditional vendors have stable supply chain and offline channels, while smartphone makers are more likely to embrace new technology and generate creative use cases.”

The CEO of OnePlus told Business Insider that he’s “ cautiously hopeful” that they’ll be able to release the product in 2019.

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.