As the social media marketing juggernaut that is OnePlus continues to cut a wide swath across the internets I’ve paid particularly close attention to reactions from Google+. Most of the comments I see on OnePlus posts are overwhelmingly positive, even desperate, as everyone tries to secure an invite to what is already one of the most talked-about Android devices of 2014.
But in other corners of G+ things aren’t quite so rosy. I would expect there to be some push-back from OnePlus’s aggressive marketing, but I never would have thought that the anger would be so misdirected.
TL;DR Critics of the OnePlus invite system would do well to educate themselves about another, already-successful Chinese Android phone-maker.
So here’s a random post from Google+, a video wherein one Jamaar Deboise says the following at about three and a half minutes in:
Essentially it’s going to be an invite-only-type purchase, which is incredibly stupid to me. No company does this…
I guess Jamaar has never heard of Xiaomi, the upstart Chinese hardware manufacturer that managed to snag Hugo Barra from Google last summer? While the company doesn’t produce hardware on nearly the same scale as Samsung or Apple, Xiaomi has done quite well with a sales tactic similar to OnePlus: flash sales for pre-registered customers.
Here are some numbers from Tech in Asia:
- 10,000 Redmi phones sold in 36 seconds in Hong Kong;
- 10,000 Redmi phones sold in less than 10 minutes in Taiwan;
- 10,000 Mi3 phones sold in just over three minutes in Taiwan;
- 4,000 Mi3 phones sold in 17 minutes in Malaysia.
Another Tech in Asia post explains the benefits of flash sales:
Flash sales increase a company’s control over the supply of a product. Xiaomi makes its phones in relatively small batches, for which customers register ahead of time. This direct-to-customer approach allows Xiaomi to more accurately gauge demand, saving it a ton of money on excess inventory and distribution to third-party vendors. Rarely will a company fail to sell off its entire stock in this way.
Now back to OnePlus… here’s how they justify their invite system:
Making too many devices that end up not being sold can bankrupt a business easily. In addition, there’s always a production ramp up period where production yield increases by time. This is another reason why it’s hard to have a lot of stock from the very beginning. When the choice is between selling to a few users first, or stocking up and delaying launch, it’s not a difficult decision to choose the former.
Sure seems like the same argument to me. And yet the hate on Google+ continues… Check out this not-so-clever parody from Armando Ferreira:
I know, I know, it’s only social media, where everyone has a voice, whether they deserve to or not. It’s also ‘Murica, where folks probably aren’t used to a limited supply of anything. 😛
I personally think that an invite system for a handset made in small numbers is absolutely the right way to go. And if you didn’t already know, there’s some invites up for grabs right now!