It may not seem like a lot to industry leaders Samsung and Apple, but for a mobile phone upstart with few carrier connections and even less advertising, the launch of OnePlus’s latest flagship model was a rousing success.
The four-year-old business, held by Oppo and Vivo parent BBK Electronics in China, has developed a fervent fan base and the praise of the tech press for its us-against-them social media marketing, global pop-up stores and most of all, its competitively-spec’d but popularly-priced phones.
Its latest “flagship killer,” the OnePlus 6, launched last month in London before an audience of 1,000 devotees who paid up to $41 a ticket for the first-look event. What they found was a Galaxy-class handset at two-thirds the price, to wit: an all-Gorilla Glass 5 phone with 6.3-inch, 19:9 AMOLED display; Snapdragon 845 processor; up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of onboard storage; dual 16-megpixel and 20-megapixel cameras; and 3,300 mAh battery, all with a starting price of $529.
Supported by 26 pop-up stores across 11 countries that drew more than 15,000 customers, the OnePlus 6 became the company’s fastest-moving model to date, with more than 1 million units sold within its first 22 days.
Though dwarfed by the estimated 32 million iPhone Xs sold during its inaugural quarter and the more than 8 million Galaxy S9 and S9+ units purchased in that pair’s first month, OnePlus founder/CEO Pete Lau thanked followers for having “surpassed our expectations … We are touched by the trust that 1 million people have placed in us and are grateful for the loyalty they have displayed.”
In North America, where co-founder and company director Carl Pei hinted to
TWICE last fall of an eventual U.S. carrier deal — and the more recent expulsion of Huawei leaves a tertiary-brand vacuum — sales grew 139 percent between 2016 and 2017. And OnePlus, now a billion-dollar business and fueled by its most popular handset yet, says it expects “to continue its pattern of steady growth” again this year.
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