OnePlus is a young company, having been founded only three years ago in December 2013. Owned by Oppo and its parent company, BBK Electronics of China, this maverick smartphone manufacturer has achieved a lot in its three years in the market, following a strategy of keeping customers in mind when designing and developing its products. Also Read - OnePlus could soon come under Oppo's shelter, suggests new leaked documentAlso Read - OnePlus Nord N200 to get just one Android OS update but 3 years of maintenance patches
Indeed, a lot of its maverick ideas come from its 27-year-old co-founder Carl Pei. Just like fellow founder of OnePlus Pete Lau, Pei started out at Oppo and then was a part of the team that decided to try something different. I met Pei during his recent visit to Mumbai, and had a chance to talk to him about OnePlus and its plans for India going forward. Also Read - OnePlus phones in future will continue to run OxygenOS despite merger with Oppo: Report
Our first batch had 1,000 phones
Just four months after the company s founding, the OnePlus One was launched. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 SoC, along with 3GB of RAM and either 16GB or 64GB of internal storage, the phone was priced much lower than similarly specified smartphones at the time, and featured CyanogenMod OS, which only served to sweeten the deal for power users and Android enthusiasts.
Our first batch of the OnePlus One had just 1,000 phones, says Pei, when asked about the dreaded invite system. They correctly assumed that demand would far exceed supply, and the invite system was not only a way to generate buzz by creating desirability, but also a way to ensure that the company would be able to properly cope with the demand and supply issues. It was a whole 90 days later that we had our second batch of 20,000 units ready.
The invite system remained in place till the launch of the OnePlus 3 in June 2016, which finally had the phone on open sale permanently. Initially, it was expected that the phone would be out of stock a lot of the time, but OnePlus had its product in place on this occasion. The OnePlus 3 was also well received by both the user and expert communities, earning the admiration of mobile phone enthusiasts the world over.
We want to be known as a manufacturer of premium products
Of the five smartphones that OnePlus has launched since its inception, four have been top end smartphones. You could say that the OnePlus X was an experiment, to see how our users would accept a mid-range smartphone. For the time being though, our plans have us sticking to the premium space, producing phones that are top-spec and the best that we can offer. We want to be known as a manufacturer of premium products; phones that compete with other flagships, said Pei on the company s product strategy.
Indeed, this is a strategy that feels a lot like Apple s own approach to smartphones. Apple focuses on its flagship phone for the year, with older models remaining in production even after a newer device is launched, serving as the more affordable options in the product range. OnePlus follows a similar strategy, and the OnePlus 2 is still available to buy today, albeit at a price that is a bit lower than what it was launched at.
We aren t married to the six-month product cycle
The OnePlus 3T was a surprising product, since it wasn t like the company to depart from its annual product cycle. A lot of OnePlus 3 buyers, including yours truly, were naturally disappointed, since they didn t have the pride of owning the company s flagship phone for more than a few months, although the OnePlus 3T was only an incremental upgrade that was still mostly a OnePlus 3 on the inside. When I asked Carl if the six-month cycle was here to stay, he replied, We aren t married to the six-month product cycle, so I won t say that it s here to stay. The OnePlus 3T exists because we listened to customer feedback, and wanted to take advantage of certain improvements and bring them to the market.
Indeed, the existence of the OnePlus 3T hasn t seen the OnePlus 3 receive any lack of attention. The OnePlus 3 and 3T have both been updated to Android Nougat, and will receive firmware support from the company together going forward.
However, the lack of internal storage on the OnePlus 3 and 3T means that the 128GB variant of the 3T is particularly useful to buyers who worry about storage space. We believed that the Rs 30,000 mark was sacrosanct when it came to pricing in India, and were a bit concerned about pricing the 128GB OnePlus 3T at Rs 34,999. That said, it s done surprisingly well, and sells a bit quicker than we were expecting it to, Pei said.
The numbers are good
When asked about OnePlus performance in the market, Carl had this to say, The numbers are good, and we re profitable. Of course, we aren t making tons of money, but we re on track to do so going forward. While India is a great market to be in, we re doing exceptionally well in the Western Europe market as well, where the OnePlus 3 and 3T have been extremely well received.
Rajat Agrawal (@rajatagr) January 2, 2017
OnePlus also recently set up its own experience store in Bangalore at the start of 2017. While you can t actually buy the phones at the experience store (OnePlus distributes its phones exclusively with Amazon in India), you can get a feel of the device before you buy it. The building isn t just our store, we ve also moved our operations there, with the higher floors serving as our base in India, said Carl of the store. That was our first big move of 2017, and we re looking forward to a great year ahead.