Want a OnePlus One? You will need an invitation to buy one

by: Bogdan PetrovanApril 17, 2014

oneplus one invite system

For a startup that’s not even a year old, China-based OnePlus has been doing an amazing job at drumming up the excitement for its first smartphone, the OnePlus One.

And if OnePlus keeps all its promises, all the fuss might actually be worth it. Who wouldn’t be interested in an affordable device offering high-end specs and a custom version of CyanogenMod?

The only small problem? Not everyone will be able to buy the OnePlus One, at least not at launch.

In a posting on the company forums, Carl Pei, Director of OnePlus Global, announced that the One will be made available on a system called the “OnePlus Invite System”. In simple words, you will need an invitation in order to claim a OnePlus One. Each buyer will be able to send a number of invitations to their friends, while some invitations will be made available through contests and other promotional activities. The number of invitations will be limited in the beginning, and will ramp up once sales gain steam.

Why is OnePlus doing this?

In their own words, “it’s very hard to predict the future, and hardware is expensive. Producing larger batches means tying in more capital and increasing risk. Making too many devices that end up not being sold can bankrupt a business easily”.

This may be a really smart move

The company thinks the pre-order system and the batch system are frustrating and cumbersome for customers. Going for an invite system has the advantage of limiting logistic and production risks. And, if things work out as OnePlus hopes, the system could provide excellent word of mouth promotion, as well as create the illusion of scarcity, thus making the OnePlus One seem even more valuable.

But the move could also backfire. If OnePlus misjudged the interest of customers or their willingness to jump through hoops to buy the One, the whole scheme could turn into a fiasco.

Regardless of how it works out, OnePlus deserves praising for the willingness to take risks and try out new approaches. In an industry dominated by entrenched rivals with billions in their war chests, a young, gutsy company from China might actually prove you can make things differently.

What do you think of OnePlus’ idea? Join us in our new OnePlus One forums to discuss it.

  • Norman Zaczyk

    5 invitations??? I only know one person who has ever heard of the OnePlus One and he is happy with his Nexus device… This thing is for nerds only, right? They’ve got ~20000 likes on Facebook and i think the sales numbers will be even lower when they can’t make everything true they promised (better than everything industrial design? not if it looks anything like the leaks…). I am really looking forward to buying this but I think this has massive potential to fail :/

    • Christian Koch

      I just imagine a potential buyer: Looking on the website -> thinks it is a nice phone -> wants to buy it -> needs an invite to buy it -> goes “wtf?” -> buys a shitty Samsung device…

      • Andrew White

        You forget Samsung is our default representative, by shear volume of sales and diversity of devices in the android world. Without its product, R & D and a massive advertising budget, Apple would rule the world.
        The Chinese are determined the rattle the cage of the established players, which in my book is a good thing, particularly when we are still getting (being offered with some difficulty) Android based phones.
        This ‘Invite System’ will backfire because the brand is unknown and has no track record in the west. Even the very low price tag of approx. $429 with its high end specs really doesn’t tempt me if it fails in the first few months with little or no recourse.
        My money is on the LG G3 or the more established Chinese make, the Oppo Find 7.

        • Laurids Kristensen

          The OnePlus One devices are produced at Oppo’s utilities, so why would Find 7 (or 7a) be that much better than a OnePlus One, with the price in mind?

          • Andrew White

            I’m certain the quality is the same even with vastly differing price points.
            What is different is what is on offer i.e. Oppo’s rapid charging, which is just amazing and now almost essential if you can’t swap the battery out, with Oppo you can do this as well.
            The inclusion of SD card support (up to 128GB), putting personal photos and 4k video on the cloud….no thanks.
            The camera tech…..again Oppo is the clear winner here as well. Check out the latest Youtube video reviews.
            In summary, I want more in a latest gen smartphone and while the OnePlus One is good value in terms of current hardware, so much is actually missing.

        • Nika Puntushashvili

          Just saw the Huawei honor 6 :) also nice specs! I’m interested in the 8 core processor

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    it better be dang good as they say. i think in the end this could prevent the Nexus 4 fiasco where there was an overwhelming demand yet for the most part most had been bought for resale, not for real consumers.

  • Tejas Jain

    Alll those leaks and everything were like ‘+1’, a step in the right direction. To be honest, One Plus quiet impressed me with whatever they were doing. And then I read this article. This is like ‘-10000’.

  • Colts5609

    I can already see the Ebay auctions of people selling their precious invites.

  • wezi427

    Is this a GSM only phone?

    • Colts5609

      Yes. It should work with AT&T and T-Mobile in the US.

      • wezi427

        Thanks, unfortunately I’m with Verizon so once again I’m not able to get a decent phone off contract. I’m currently without a contact, but I still have unlimited data and the competitors can’t match the coverage in my area.

        • VersedNJ

          You’re on a CDMA carrier, you know it, you have your reasons, the worlds not going to revolve around a dead end local technology. Deal with it.

          • wezi427

            What’s dead end and deal with what?

  • Colts5609

    My big question is this. How do you obtain the initial invite? Do you have to work at Engadget, Android Authority or be a name in the tech world? Winner of a lottery system? This worries me, I now see the One+ as being a “too good to be true” device for most people that actually want one. I could easily see these things being delayed because of production or lack of invites. Delayed so much that you may no longer want the device when it is your turn to receive one.

    • gommer strike

      You and I are just outside wanna-be’s and not legendary television stars. And this is the Roxbury – you gotta be on the list.

  • KingofPing

    This is going to fail so hard.

    No-one wants a cheap high-spec device running CyanogenMOD. They all want expensive crap running iOS or TouchWiz, and they sure as hell aren’t going to wait on an invite or go begging for one on My/Twit/Face.

    It’s a nice pipe-dream, folks….but that’s about all it is.

    • gommer strike

      It’s like…

      OK so…Apple makes people *wait in line* for their beloved iPhones on launch day/week, and further, you even have to *set up a reservation online* to make things even more confounding and retarded. But that’s Apple, and they’ve gotten away with it year after year.

      OK so for an unknown brand, who’s never sold a single phone here…and they’re already rolling out the red carpet treatment to the oh-so-special VIP’s, with everyone else waiting outside, in the rain. Beautiful.

  • jay555

    …..um……there’s this thing called “pre-ordering”….why not just let people do that? Even if it takes a few weeks for the device to be produced and shipped out, no one will mind waiting that long if it lives up to all the hype.

    • jackson5

      they prefer people to participate in the forum and stuff, they are like attention wh****

  • Bryan May

    Very bad idea. I am a techie and can’t think of one other person I know that has heard of this phone, much less intending to purchase it. My friends think all Android Phone are a Samsung Galaxy. I already have a Sony Xperia Z1 as my daily driver and was just going to fool around with this. If there is any difficulty purchasing one at launch, then forget it .

  • naetrogen

    Wow, these guys really need to take some courses in marketing! They’re doing so many things wrong, for instance they’re giving the potential customer way too much expectations. It’s not good to give customers too much expectations cuz it’s easier for them to get dissapointed, it’s better to meet in ” halfway”. And now this invitation bullshit? They’re spending hundred thoussands dollar (pessimistic) and they want to sell only for invited folks?
    They’re digging their own graves, I can bet that this device will be a really disapontment.

    Just to make it clear, I don’t have the intention to buy this phone but their marketing strategy is really bad and amateurish

  • krazyking

    The problem is…. No mention of how to get an invitation. I am looking forward to this device and will probably buy one. Unless it gets too complicated. Which with this announcement it seems to be. I don’t wanna jump through hoops and join forums etc to get this phone. I just wanna preorder or buy it. Keep it simple One Plus.

  • eliHd

    Why is mr carl pei doing this? They’ve not even shown us a phone yet and hes expecting us to be his dogs? Asking around to get invites? My £500 gets me invites with most top brands out there!! I got a feeling this phone is going to flop big time! I was going to buy this phone as from the specs they show us it looks good. But now I might js go with oppo 7a. We will see.

  • paxmos

    So. What are they inviting me to buy? All i know is that it is a phone and not much else!! I dont even know what it looks like. You cant build the hype that way.

  • Groud Frank

    If it sounds too good to be true then it usually is. There is always a catch. I didn’t have much interest in this device lately anyway.

  • Ryo

    Dumb as hell. Those with initial invitations will just use it to scalp and sell their “invitations”.

  • [A]dri[A]n

    Amateur strategy from an amateur company. “Invite Only” for a device your potential customers no nothing about? Yeah… no.

  • Orville Keeton

    I need a new phone since my old one was run over, it works; but the screen is kind of bad now :). Like how do you get the invite, what are all of the specs for the phone? What does it look like? how much is the 64GB version. I see lots of hype for it and it may be great; but I do not see any real facts about it.

  • Kenny Honeycutt

    Ok how do u get a chance for an invite I would love to have one or at least a chance at one

  • Shacham Ginat

    That can be a smart move. They’re trying to make the phone more premium feeling, psychologically, by limiting the product. It’s like a rare football card, or whatever: Even if created with the same materials as the other cards, the value will rise as soon as it’s harder to get, ‘rarer’ if you may.

    They’re not trying to sale, they’re trying to create hype. Their entire marketing system for this phone has been to create hype.
    They’re trying to change the game, with those specs they can charge twice the current price-tag, but while Google has done it more “quietly”, OnePlus are loud, and it’s IMPORTANT for all of us that they succeed:
    because if they succeed, and people start to see that value is not determined by price alone, they will go for phones like the nexus, or OnePlus’s One, phones with more value to their price-points. and the other companies, will start start doing the same, and give customers NOT more premium, but more value for the price.

  • Dt Bell

    In other word, we wanna sell’em before we make’em.
    They should just go into production, and the ones they don’t sell get rebranded.

  • Jack Hunterson

    I have to choose between the Find 7 and the ONePlus One and an iPhone. Just on principle I won’t get the OnePlus ONe. You have to be an incredible idiot to LIMIT PEOPLE FROM GIVING YOU THEIR MONEY.
    This artificial scarcity thing is like a shady nightclub that makes you wait 15 minutes in line when it’s empty inside.

  • Reetu Thakoor

    I would like to buy this phone as soon as it comes to INDIA. thnx

  • Anand

    Guys…Can you please send me a One Plus invite!

  • SonofSpermcube

    Gmail launched this way, in case anyone’s forgotten.

  • virx

    all done

  • jackson5

    There are many great high end phones right there and their brand is not a well known one compared to their competitors.

    They want to buzz to have people that are more than customers otherwise people would just buy it and won’t really care about the company. they want attention but the problem is that other phones are as good as the Opo and… AVAILABLE! this is not a good strategy and their opo is not stereo as I heard in many youtube reviews, it is dual mono btw

    I wanted this phone because of its price otherwise I would go for a LG G3

  • christian

    how do i get an invite? that is all cause i wanna get this phone by next week and i agree with Jay555, “pre(freaking)ordering” dang this pisses me off

  • عفيص
  • Rosh

    Why is this phone not available in Singapore? Can anybody help me to get a phone?

  • Shane Smeltz


  • badoogie

    this is total bs…. pissing a lot of people with this invitation crap. there are a lot of options out there, people don’t have time for this type idiots. this is exactly how to lose potential customers.