Can OnePlus appeal to more than just Android fanboys

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Can OnePlus appeal to more than just Android fanboys

22 ноя 2017, 16:50

Chances are, you've probably never heard of OnePlus. But ask an Android aficionado and you'll likely get a smile.

That's because OnePlus has spent the last three years creating a company almost exclusively catering to savvy and hardcore Android users. It's done so by packing premium features and specifications into smartphones that are significantly cheaper than traditional flagship offerings from the likes of Apple or Samsung. Its latest phone is the OnePlus 5T.

OnePlus, owned by Chinese phone giant Oppo, is a rare example of a company making headway directly with consumers, fostered in part by a thriving and active online community that offers feedback on future products. That's particularly impressive in US, where other direct-to-consumer efforts have struggled and most Americans buy phones from their wireless carriers.

"OnePlus is an enthusiast brand, and that is not a bad thing," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Global Data.

But there are signs that OnePlus wants to be more than just a niche player. The company last week held its first phone launch event, inviting media and more than 350 fans to a warehouse venue in Brooklyn -- a signal that it hungers for a larger presence in the mobile world.

Co-founder Carl Pei made his ambitions known near the end of the hour-long presentation.

"One day in the future, you will hopefully see OnePlus devices all around you, maybe even used by people who have no idea about technology," he said.

OnePlus has a long a way to go before that scenario becomes plausible. Its word-of-mouth strategy has been great for cultivating a base of savvy customers, but that also means it flies under the radar for most people. Since it sells directly to customers, it gets little carrier support. The price of the OnePlus 5T has edged up to $499, or nearly twice the price of the original OnePlus One's $299 starting cost.

OnePlus isn't looking to go on a marketing blitz, and co-founder and CEO Pete Lau said he would continue to focus on word of mouth as its primary growth driver.

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