Congratulations to Ashwin, Aniela and Jesus (!) for getting the three OnePlus One invites. Gentle reminder that invites have a time limit, so please place your orders before they expire. Once you get your phones, check out my nine suggestions for improving usability.
With that announcement out of the way, it just occurred to me who should adopt OnePlus’ marketing strategy: Microsoft with the Surface 3. To recap, the OnePlus One strategy is to sell flagship devices to tech geeks as a loss leader to generate hype and demand (see here for the blueprint).
I don’t think the Lumia is a good fit for this strategy as consumers won’t have an easy way to compare the value of a Lumia to an iPhone or Android, so its ability to act as a loss leader is limited. But that restriction doesn’t apply to the Surface, which competes with 300 million PCs shipped every year.
Microsoft should create a Surface 3 that is priced aggressively: one with a beastly Nvidia Tegra K1 chip, pen digitizer, Surface Pro 3 display, and a thinner and lighter profile than its predecessor.
Charge $199 for this device. With Office included.
Interested in such a device, yes?
Crazy price, right? Precisely. All of a sudden Windows RT doesn’t seem so bad.
Offer a version with the keyboard cover bundled in for $299. Limit supply and sell direct to consumers with a OnePlus-styled invite system where interested buyers jump through social media hoops to get one. Microsoft can be more generous with their invites than OnePlus, but more strict in the time given to share invites so they are not as easy to sell on eBay.
Microsoft should view all this as marketing expense — a way to get hype for Windows RT and the Surface line in general, and in the long-term, attract developer interest. Once unit costs for the Surface 3 decline enough to increase production, it can then be a profit-generating business.
Done right, this will result in an outpouring of awareness and buzz. This also reduces risk as Microsoft need not take on inventory risk, the kind that caused the company to write down $900 million for the original Surface.
Microsoft’s end goal after all is not to make devices but to push their platform forward.
The OnePlus strategy will do just that.