So let me set this up a bit. This article is not to excuse OnePlus for some of the choices they have made regarding the release of the One that I disagree with and find to be mistakes. This article is not to gloss over the very valid concerns of the Android community that at this time remain unanswered. This article is me taking a step back and looking at the matter in it’s entirety and trying to make sense of it while also attempting to restore some sanity to this phone release. This will be my final word on this topic until the phone is widely available so let’s begin.
So according to the Android community OnePlus is beginning to rub some potential consumers (Including myself) the wrong way. Why are we being rubbed wrong? Well here are the main issues:
- Overhype/Marketing Tactics
- Delayed Release/Lack of availability
Now there are others but in my eyes these seem to be the big two, so I will play devils advocate and try to articulate both sides here, while attempting to bridge them somewhere in the middle.
OnePlus is the new kid on the block, they essentially have no following among consumers and they have to find a way to get their name out there by producing some level of compelling argument against the status-quo hence the “Never Settle” mantra. So far they have done an excellent job staying in the headlines via their piecemeal spec releases (which I thought was great) or their poking and prodding of bigger OEM devices. This has allowed them to enjoy a very organic grassroots following which has given them the buzz they desired all without actually releasing a device. This truly speaks to the power of marketing and word of mouth. But like all things “Grassroots” you have to be careful how you manage this small yet passionate following.
From the perspective of those followers, Oneplus has betrayed their trust; or to some degree insulted them via marketing tactics like the “Invite System” where basically as my fellow Droid-Effect counterpart +Brian Healy stated during our previous Hangout sounded “more like a pyramid scheme”. This invite system essentially asked the most passionate of potential consumers to now not only follow the One, but now “spread the word” about the phone via posting on forums about it. Then hopefully these followers would then receive an invite from Oneplus to purchase the device. Once that customer purchased the device they would receive invitations that they could then pass along to friends. From the consumer’s perspective this is the thought: “I have followed you for months, told my friends about the product and now after you release it you withhold the product and ask me to spam forums or break my old phone to POSSIBLY receive an invite and the honor to purchase your product? Up yours!! OnePlus”. You see how passion can cut both ways.
But if we dig a bit deeper into why consumers are miffed, there is more to this and this is how we get to.
Delayed Release/Lack of Availability
As many bloggers have said already (including me) “All OnePlus had to say was “We took a sampling and we cannot currently meet the demand for our device. We will institute a pre-order system that will be open to our forum users first and then branch out from there. We are a small company and apologize for this inconvenience”. Now in order for that to have worked you would have had to have tapped down on some of the elements described in section one of this article. But since OnePlus didn’t we now have the issue with further potential consumer outrage. But let’s look at it from the OnePlus perspective.
OnePlus is a subsidiary of Oppo (Not that I care, but this goes back to trust), attempting to build it’s own identity in a sea of competition. If OnePlus had taken the approach I described above would that have made consumers balk at the idea of their device relative to it’s big brother the Oppo Find 7? Would consumers have simply written the device off as simply a cheaper version of what Oppo had to offer? These are relevant questions form a business perspective. OnePlus decided to go full-bore and put their big boy pants on, rush out into the wild alone and try to make themselves appear bigger than they were and now we are at a point where consumers are already looking at late June date of availability (possibility), until regular consumers could possibly get their hands on the devices. Lots of possibilities and assumptions in that statement eh? That’s the problem. There is no guarantee of availability for the device at this point and now everyone knows OnePlus is a small company and subsidiary to Oppo. Now your consumers are starting to get wandering eyes because June is when more leaks of the next Moto, Nexus, iPhone or worse next version of android may begin to trickle out. But I will say this to the consumers with wandering eyes. Guy’s it’s just June chill out, those other phones might not be available until September and November.
Look, in my opinion nobody can deny that despite the other “One” (How many damn Ones have been released recently) and its lack of availability, that OnePlus didn’t build one hell of a device. The OnePlus One has the highest specs on the market (at the moment) and is the best bang for your buck available if you’re a specwhore. I don’t care about specs, I care about experience and in this department OnePlus lost me with the sheer size of the phone, I am also a bit concerned with how Cyanogen will do in keeping this phone up to date, but only time will tell. I look at the OnePlus One in the same lens as I do the Moto X. Both are tremendous devices and unique in their own right, while suffering from the same flaw, lack of availability. Look, nobody that looks at Android seriously expected the One to turn the market on it’s head or to be wildly successful from a sales perspective. We expected it to be a phone that would make consumers ask themselves some simple questions “Why do I pay more for less? Why do I settle for less when I can get more? Then come to the conclusion that we should “Never Settle”.
If I look at all of this through that lens then OnePlus I think you have succeeded and my hats of to you. You have shown the world that you can get a device with high-end components without breaking the bank to do so. The problem is without the sales figures or enough devices in hands, you have shown only a few but not enough to make a difference.
I wish you great success in the future, we need you!