oneplus

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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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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Mini tablets exploded at a time when 3.5-inch iPhones and 9.7-inch iPads were what’s most popular. There was a big gap between these two sizes: the iPhone was highly portable, but the screen meant bite-sized consumption; iPads were better for Internet browsing and games, but it was too large to easily carry around. Mini tablets fulfilled a market gap — a computing device small enough to hold with one hand that offered a better reading experience than phones could provide.

However, the world today is different. The 4-inch iPhone 5S is practically the smallest smartphone on the market, 5-inch phones are average and 5.5-inch phones are not uncommon. The trend to bigger screen sizes is apparent in the chart below:

Did you know that smartphone screens nearly doubled in size since 2007?

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Xiaomi and OnePlus proved that it is possible to start a successful smartphone company, even with limited resources. Here’s their strategy in a nutshell:

  1. Create a compelling product for tech enthusiasts
  2. Sell it direct as a loss leader
  3. Limit production to create scarcity
  4. Build awareness and demand
  5. Sell profitable related products and services
  6. Scale production once component costs drop

Small Chinese companies like Xiaomi and OnePlus were able to create markets even while competitors like Apple and Samsung spend billions in advertising their smartphones. Their success is a blueprint for others to follow, whether you’re running an established smartphone company or starting one.

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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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