While the big players like Samsung, Apple, Lenovo etc. are striving to beat each other and grabbing a big chunk of the 345 million smartphone shipments market in Q1 2015, this small team of engineers have stuck to their main goal to design the ‘dream smartphone’ that would balance the quality of high-end devices with lower prices and gained significant brand value, in less than an year and a half of their existence.
With over 1 million Oneplus One sold globally, starting invite-only and just one $310 (approximate) phone in their basket, the OnePlus co-founder, Carl Pei, claims to be focusing on building features primarily based on customer feedback.
In an exclusive interview with us, Carl said, “Lowering the cost but not the quality helps you acquire a lot more customers much faster. Once you have hundreds of millions of customers on the platform we can easily figure out how to monetize the platform. In the beginning when you are building a platform you should not think about how are you going to make money. It is similar to what Google has done by offering most of its services for free.”
“Never Settle” is not just the philosophy of the OnePlus brand, it also seems to be engrained in their attitude and the way they work things into the entire user experience. Right from making its flagship phone action packed with amazing specifications, to keeping up their promise of bringing the Lollipop update to their users not far from its release, One Plus has relentlessly given itself into wowing its consumers. They even added the “OK ONEPLUS” voice wake-up feature to the CynogenMod 12 and built an entire new platform called the Oxygen OS based on Android Lollipop, after drifting away from CynogenMod which is supported by over 220 devices worldwide.
Carl has also confirmed that the successor of OnePlus One, OnePlus 2 is set to make debut in the third quarter of this year and hinted that it may be priced tagged with between $450 and $500. The company, however, would follow its famous ‘Invite-Only’ model to sell its the upcoming device.
“In the beginning we thought, look we are going to make a smartphone, something that has a complex architecture. And, we are going to make it available in many countries.So, we are thinking like a software company i.e. Facebook. A software company starts with a very small niche people use case. So, we decided to launch Oneplus One in small batches, see the reaction and then scale up. We are not making any money from our smartphone and if we end up manufacturing too many phones and not enough sales, soon we will be bank corrupt in the very beginning. So, to control our risk we have designed and adopted the Invite-Only sales strategy.”, says Carl while talking about Invite-Only system.
Carl is quite optimistic about the company’s performance in India – world’s second largest smartphone market. He believes that his company would be able to achieve 1 million sales milestone in India this year.
Nearly 71% of smartphones sold in India in the last one year belong to sub-$200 category. In the last 6 months, many new OEM’s, have ventured into the India market, flooding the market with low-priced razor-thin margin smartphones. Consequently, other OEMs, including Micromax, are forced to lower their margin. In such a price-sensitive market launching a smartphone priced over $400 could be a challenge. However, Carl carries a different view on the Indian market.
“You just can’t only at the current market structure alone. You must have enough confidence that your product can change the dynamics of the market. The smartphone market is no more about selling hardware and making money. You have to think about the capacity of your users’ disposal income regularly on apps and services that you offer on your smartphone. If you look and Android vs iOS, users, the latter ones are more valuable because they have got more disposal income. At OnePlus, it’s the same.”, adds Carl.
We have had a chance to read Carl Pei’s mind quite recently by shooting few tough questions. Below is the full-length interview of Carl Pei, Co-Founder – OnePlus, speaking about various aspects of OnePlus you may want to enlighten yourself with.