When we think of some of the biggest technology industries that are, crucially affecting our everyday lives, immediately what comes to mind is smartphones. Now almost everyone able to read this blog will possess their own smartphone, probably from one of the main manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, LG or even Motorola. These are all top-tier companies we are all very familiar with and they make some of the top flagship phones that consumers demand. Now many of you reading this blog have them but something that is happening in the smartphone market is we are becoming aware of the real price of the phones we have. Just look at the newest iPhone 6S by Apple, it retails at a whopping $650, much more than the paltry $200 someone probably paid through their carrier on contract not long ago. With the realization of such high-prices a new wave of companies hailing from China are beginning to make a splash in the marketplace and one such company, OnePlus, is leading the charge.
The story of OnePlus is a very new one, as the company started up operations only in winter of 2013 they have already launched two successful products and as of today announced their third. What makes them so unique is how they mimic the similarities of Linus Torvalds and the creation of the Linux operating system. As Clay Shirky says it, “The number of people who are willing to start something is smaller, much smaller, than the number of people who are willing to contribute once someone else starts something” (p. 239, 2008). A collective group decided to launch their own smartphone company in the desire to make a simple, better phone at an affordable price, therefore created OnePlus.
What makes OnePlus unique in the same sense of what makes Linux a unique platform is in the way it relies on a much wider community to influence those that make the dedicated changes within the company. Once the company formed the few individuals who would put most the effort into creating a product, now that it has been created an influx of users began to go to the forums of OnePlus and contribute their thoughts and ideas into what would make a great smartphone. Taking regards of interest in mind they launched their first smartphone, the OnePlus One, in April of 2014 using an invite only system to help lessen costs that come with overproduction. Luckily, for OnePlus, their initial product took off as the media was raving about the product and consumers were flooding their website and social media accounts wanting the One Plus One that led to sales that far exceed their expectations.
With a recent announcement today of their new OnePlus X, the third product entry from the company many major manufacturers are taking notice on what is making this small Chinese startup so successful. The use of community engagement and the creation of the company from a like-minded group allow them to lead the charge in the new trend in smartphones. As consumers can see the full price of their smartphones they are wanting a similar product at a lesser price, this is where companies like OnePlus are making strides and we are sure to see many other companies follow suit in entering the American and global markets. Do you know of any other companies or products that operate like OnePlus and Linux? If so what are they doing that is similar or different?