In an exclusive interview with the Wall Street Journal, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei revealed more about the company’s motivations, as well as what keeps the young entrepreneur buzzing.
With the young startup set to unveil its next flagship smartphone, the OnePlus 2, in just a few days, Pei’s interview with the WSJ comes at the best time. Not much has been written about both Pei and the company’s other co-founder, former Oppo Vice President Pete Lau, but OnePlus gave plenty of access to the WSJ, including plenty of one-on-one time with Pei.
It is hard to believe that Pei is just 25 years old. Born in Beijing but raised in Sweden, Pei worked in Meizu and Oppo before co-founding OnePlus with Lau. It came about when Pei noticed that despite working for Android smartphone companies, he and his colleagues would commonly be using an iPhone, which is widely thought of as the best smartphone in the world. Why isn’t there an Android equivalent? “We saw a gap,” Pei said.
To successfully penetrate the smartphone market isn’t easy; just ask anyone that is not Apple. A company needs to be agile, and create new approaches and ideas to disrupt the market. OnePlus did just that by offering the OnePlus One, a top-tier smartphone for less than half the price of an iPhone or flagship Android smartphone.
To manage inventories, it created an invite system. Nobody had done anything like it, where interested buyers would have to be “invited” to purchase the OnePlus One, and many were put off by it, claiming that OnePlus was creating an artificial short supply to create sustained interest. But for Pei, the reason was simple:
If your two choices are: you piss some people off, or you risk dying as a company, then the choice becomes pretty easy.
Now, after surpassing its own hugely modest sales target for the One, the company is now ready to unveil the OnePlus 2. After spending “more than 400 days” making the OnePlus 2, the startup will be announcing the device to fans even more eager to see what comes next. It’s already generating a buzz with its “world’s first VR launch event‘, where viewers can watch the launch using cardboard VR headsets in the eyes of someone who will be on stage during the launch event.
The OnePlus 2 has been confirmed to pack high-end specs, but some questions will remain about its design – the submitted device to China’s regulatory body shows a less-than-handsome “OnePlus 2” which has dampened the excitement a little. Perhaps it’s all part of the plan? We’re about to find out next week.