All too often, we find ourselves complaining about smartphone manufacturers botching the initial sales of their phones. Maybe delays push back availability, or when the hardware actually does arrive, it’s in nowhere near sufficient quantities to meet demand. “Should the manufacturer have just waited until it could be sure that proper stocks would be available?” we ask. It turns out that OnePlus has been thinking about those kinds of problems, and what it might do to avoid them for the One’s debut. As we get into the home stretch before the phone’s launch next week, the company shared its idea for the best way to approach sales, and what it’s come up with is just a bit unusual.
Sales of the OnePlus One will be moderated by an invite system; you won’t be able to just head on over to the company’s website and order on a whim, but will have to be issued an invitation first.
OnePlus says that this decision is a compromise between delaying the start of sales altogether, forcing shoppers to place pre-orders and sit around twiddling their thumbs, and having shoppers scrambling to get an order in once a new batch becomes available. Instead, OnePlus will make invites available gradually, and once you get one you can place your order straight away, no pre-orders needed.
Invites will be made available through contests, on the OnePlus forums, and through “friends,” which sounds to us like OnePlus is going to make invites transferable between users. It hasn’t started distributing any just yet, and promises more news next week on launch day.
Honestly, we’re not quite sure how to feel about this just yet, it being such a novel approach to smartphone sales. On the one hand, this sounds like a careful, thoughtful way to bring control to what could otherwise be a big mess. That said, OnePlus has a lot to prove here, and forcing potential shoppers to jump through the hoops of acquiring an invite could easily dissuade them and send them off towards an easier-to-buy model.
It’s also worth nothing that we haven’t seen OnePlus describe this invite system as something temporary, just for initial sales while it gets its stock situation in order – this could well be here to stay.