The OnePlus One is a smartphone of wonder and legend. It is here but yet not here, a beautiful twinkling mirage. How has this happened that there is such a shortfall in supply? You need an invitation to own one, and these are horribly scarce. Although the hype is certainly building demand, it is a frustrating time for potential customers and manufacturer alike. Carl Pei, Director of OnePlus Global, has posted a basic explanation of the problem on the OnePlus forums, so we thought we’d pass it on to you, if nothing else this article gives you something to read while waiting for your invitation.
While assuring customers that OnePlus are “doing everything…to increase shipments”, Pei explains that while the demand was underestimated, it is too important not to have a stock surplus for a startup to order too many. This meant that order numbers were conservative. Much more conservative than they thought, apparently. Making up the shortfall is difficult because the LCD screen has a 3 month procurement programme so new orders cannot be completed at speed and the last batch were ordered before the end of April. Add to this OnePlus rejects 30% of all new components due to their strict quality control, the back cover is made of unique materials so is difficult to produce and the 64GB memory is unusual so not easy to come by, and the problem becomes clear: it just takes a long time to build the phone, and they need far more than they ever dreamed they would need. This means it is likely to be some time yet before the demand can meet supply.
OnePlus have been accused of withholding stock purposelfully, something Pei refutes as going against the OnePlus business plan. They don’t have the marketing budget of the big players, so their way to the top of the chain is to produce high-quality smartphones at low prices and instead of advertising, sell as many as they can (without making a profit) and rely on the phones to advertise themselves and word of mouth recommendations. Holding back stock would seem to contradict the business plan but the hype can’t be bad advertising for the company. So is there any light at the end of the tunnel? Production is due to increase at the end of this month and there are plans to adopt a pre-order system later in the year but not until they have sorted the production problems.
So are they to be forgiven? Well, they have achieved a massive amount for a company that didn’t exist 8 months ago, to have produced a phone at all in that time is an achievement, and the products are excellent value. It might be worth the hassle to bear with them and all the teething problems and look to the future, they might just get it right next time.