A trip to Google I/O often brings the opportunity to interact with people you wouldn’t normally have the chance to meet and speak with. One such opportunity presented itself, with Carl Pei, co-founder of OnePlus attending the event in San Francisco. I asked Carl for a few minutes of his time to discuss a few topics such as their upcoming phone, the June 1st ‘Time to Change’ tease and the invite system and he kindly agreed.
To start with, Carl clarified that their upcoming phone will be known as the ‘OnePlus 2’ with a number not the written word ‘two’. The phone, he said, would launch in the third quarter of 2015, though he wouldn’t be drawn on whether it would be closer to July or to September, clarifying only ‘sometime in Q3’.
The invite system – which has been somewhat unloved by the legions of fans who profess love for the OnePlus One – was also a topic he touched on.
On the first year of sales and scarcity of the OnePlus One, he said they were overwhelmed with the popularity of the phone at launch, something that they are a more confident about this year. He said:
“In our first year, we were very risk averse, we didn’t how many people would buy the phones. We only manufactured a very small amount of phones, but this year we are a lot more confident.”
The maligned invite system, which OnePlus used to help them maintain control of sales and inventory for the OnePlus One will be returning, but it could see a better response if their plan works this time around.
“So even though we’re going out and rolling out with invites in the beginning, there’s going to be a lot more invites to go around. Which I think the user experience will be a lot better.”
Can they repeat the OnePlus One’s success?
The OnePlus One was quite a winner in terms of popularity, though the team is worried about their so-called ‘second album’ and whether they will be able to repeat the success of the original, or become a simple one-hit wonder. Carl said
“Internally we’re super anxious actually about how we’ll do with the OnePlus 2, because when we started this company, we thought this phone would only do 50,000 – 100,000 phones, we ended up doing almost a million phones.”
Carl did say that they will have a similar low-budget strategy to marketing the OnePlus 2, as they prefer to pass savings on to the users than throw money after advertising.
Software wise, OnePlus are aware of users preference for a ‘Stock’ Android experience, something they’re keen to deliver with OxygenOS for the Western markets, while they have HydrogenOS for their Eastern markets. There will be lots to announce with regards to features in OxygenOS, when the phone launches in Q3.
Carl did advise that the phone would definitely support the custom ROM scene that has seen the OnePlus One scale heights as a much preferred device for Android lovers who enjoy modding their phone.
The upcoming ‘Time to Change’ tease from OnePlus the other day certainly attracted many rumours of a OnePlus 2 launch, not so according to Mr Pei, ‘it’s not a new device’ he said. On the subject of what exactly their ‘Time to Change’ announcement means to OnePlus, he wouldn’t be drawn.
Will we see the OnePlus 2 in Australia?
Finally, we spoke about availability. The OnePlus One is now available in almost 30 markets, with direct shipping, however Australia isn’t one of them. Carl was interested in how many OnePlus handsets I’ve seen around – it’s a lot – and I advised him of this.
Carl asked about which Australian company they could partner with, advising that due to their nature, whoever it was would need to deal with a very low margin on handsets – somewhere in the realm of going as low as 3% could be needed.
While Carl has no immediate plans to enter the Australian market that he was willing to share, he seemed genuinely interested in Australia as a potential future market – if the right partner could be found.
The OnePlus 2 will launch in Q3 this year, with improved access to invites and what we’re sure will be top of the line hardware. In the meantime, we’ll find out what ‘Time to Change’ actually means on Monday when the time to change comes around.