invite

My OnePlus One review and the nine customizations I recommend for it are among the most popular posts on this blog. It’s easy to see why. Even with the all the new phones coming out for the holidays, the OnePlus One remains one of the best phones you can buy. If you can stomach not being able to take a phone into a store nearby for customer service, the One’s combination of power, price, aesthetics and software is nigh unbeatable.

So of course I noticed that OnePlus is moving from an invite to a pre-order system, similar to how you’d pre-order an iPhone or Xiaomi. People must log on the moment the system opens up and it’s a mad scramble to be among those who click nanoseconds faster than others.

To no one’s surprise, the OnePlus One pre-order page went bust when it opened to spike in traffic earlier this week. To think that it’s enough to merely double server capacity is naive!

Anyway, I hate the whole system. It’s not consumer friendly and it’s not company friendly either. Here’s how I would have done it.

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Inbox is a new mail client that The Verge calls “a total reinvention of email from Google.” Which is a bit of an exaggeration, but does demonstrate the excitement many in the tech press have for it.

Inbox is invite only for now; fortunately, Google sent me one and I’ve been using it exclusively the last few days.

How is it? There’s a saying in South East Asia: “Same-same but different.” Countries here have many similarities — ingredients used for cooking, the mix of urban sprawl and vast farmlands, the laidback, friendly culture — but each country has its own twist on things.

Inbox won’t change your life. It’s a pretty client with a few interesting ideas that are more incremental than revolutionary. The potential is certainly there for something truly new and for now, it’s same-same but different.

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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.

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I received an invite for the One from OnePlus a few weeks ago and pulled the trigger. I’ve used it as my daily driver ever since, replacing my iPhone 5S.

Yes, folks, the Cornerplay does reviews. If you have something you want us to look at, send it our way. We leave the factual details to excellent publications like Engadget (rated the OnePlus One 9/10), Gizmodo (9/10) and PC World (9/10); and focus on providing insight into all the other things that make the phone interesting.

What I want to start off with is what an amazing job OnePlus did marketing this phone. The smartphone market is super saturated, with giant corporations like Apple and Samsung spending multiple billions on advertising their phones. Here is this tiny Chinese company who, without having spent much if at all on marketing, has made the OnePlus One famous among tech enthusiasts.

This is already a sought after phone because of its flagship performance and low cost; couple that with limited supply and what you’re left with is – incredibly – a status symbol among tech snobs. I can’t believe the amount of attention I’ve gotten because of this phone, both in real life and online. One guy found me on Instagram and started liking a bunch of my photos in the hope that I would give him an invite!

All this from a tiny Chinese company? Unprecedented. Amazing. Stupendous. Good job, OnePlus.

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