Author Topic: Meet the new 'rebel' in the smartphone market  (Read 819 times)

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Offline Rakson

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Meet the new 'rebel' in the smartphone market
« on: September 09, 2014, 08:12:27 am »
 China-headquartered hardware startup
OnePlus started out with the dream of creating the perfect
smartphone - one that packs in high-end hardware,
premium design and fluid software and at the same time,
not burn a big hole in the pocket. Pete Lau, vice president of premium Chinese handset
brand Oppo, resigned with an aim of turning this dream
into reality. Nine months after the company's inception, it
won't be wrong to say that the OnePlus One, the company's smartphone has been able to create some online buzz. Its
invite-only order system has made it viral on the internet with fans and
potential customers clamouring for invites on forums and social

While the company is shipping the phone globally to markets like
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy,
Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and
the United States, it is seeing a high degree of interest from customers
in India. The company now has its eyes on the Indian market but is
laying the groundwork as it feels India is much more complex than others. Interacting with TOI Tech, Carl Pei, director, OnePlus global, said the
company was scouting for head of its India operations and was also in
talks with leading online retailers for an exclusive partnership to make
the OnePlus available in the Indian market. "We're looking for someone who would understand the market in a
better way and relate to the culture. India may turn out to be one of
the most important markets for us in the long term and we want to
ensure everything is in place before we launch the phone here. You get
one chance to make a first impression and it's hard to fix things if you
go wrong," said Pei....

OnePlus wants to set up a network of physical service centres in India.
Right now its five global warehouses double up as service centres or
just replacement hubs as it is mostly shipping replacements when users
encounter hardware issues. Pei admits that at times the process is long
and frustrating...

- The invite system

Currently, OnePlus has an invite-only system in place for orders. You can
either fill up a form and wait for about a month to get an invite or ask
a friend who acquired a OnePlus One phone for one. You can also post
on the OnePlus forums or participate in contests and give-aways to get
your hands on the phone. Interestingly, there is an aftermarket for
invites. Pei informed that people were selling invites on eBay for as high as $200. In fact, 9-10% of all invites are on eBay, as per him. An invite is usually valid for 24 hours and you get a day's grace to place
your order. This allows OnePlus to clear the inventory in 48 hours of its
arrival in the warehouses. Not all invites are valid for 24 hours and the
company is testing user behaviour with invites of different duration as
it increases volumes. It has also announced that it will introduce pre-orders by October-
November in addition to the invite system. For India, OnePlus is still assessing if it will have the same invite-only
buying system. "The reason for the invite system was to control the inventory and to
create a better user experience. We're going to look at what we learnt
from the invite system, in addition to flash sales and pre-orders and see
what fits the Indian market."...

- Meeting increased demand There has been a lot of backlash from people who've been struggling
to get their hands on the OnePlus One after the company failed to meet
demand following initial round of shipments. Pei told us that some key components of the phone take a long time to
reach production facilities from suppliers. The longest period for a
component to be delivered is three and a half months, so the company
needs to know how many units it wants to produce three and a half
months from the current date when it places orders. " This is also the
reason why three and a half months after the launch,- we didn't have enough units. But at the same time we can't take a risk and go
overboard. Hardware is complex; we had to control our risks product
risks and inventory risks." "For a small startup like OnePlus which makes little or no money from
hardware, it is important to be safe than sorry. When you have no
margins and you start producing a lot of phones that you can't sell, you
can be bankrupt. We would rather be conservative in our demand
estimates than burn our hands and shut shop," Pei reiterated. OnePlus is a lean company with around 40 employees. While a majority
of the employees used to work at Oppo, some executives have moved
in from Xiaomi and Tencent. Pei told us that a third of the team is
European and a third is North American, while the rest are from China. The company has 15 people looking after post-sales support and it will
soon announce a senior executive to lead its CS team.....

- The sexist campaign controversy OnePlus launched a contest in which women were asked to submit a
photo of themselves with its logo drawn on a piece of paper or
themselves, to win invites to buy the phone. The campaign drew a lot
of flak for its sexist rules and the company had to cancel it. "The original idea was not bad. There are girls who want the phone but
don't have the time to participate in forums or play contests, and we
wanted them to experience the phone. I admit the execution was really
bad and the rules made it sexist. I take full responsibility for it and
apologise. We need to be clear and professional and this was a misstep
on our part," said Pei.
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