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Updated with comment from Riccardo, the user who received the empty box.

When it comes to marketing, very few have been able to do what OnePlus has accomplished. The small branch of former OPPO’ers have been able to build an amazing high-end phone, price it at $300 and let social media do all the advertising work. Surely, it has worked very well for them, but can this turn around and hurt them? Did they set their own standards too high with the community?

The tech community speaks wonders of OnePlus. Now we expect them to deliver amazing work, but we knew OnePlus probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with it all. OnePlus’ invite system was to guarantee a successful and smooth production process. This month, OnePlus had to ship only a 100 devices (to Smash the Past winners), but not even those first owners got a good experience.

OnePlus One shipping disasters

These are not huge problems, per se, but they prove just how little prepared OnePlus is. These first 100 devices have started being shipped to their rightful owners, but the package is not as amazing as we would expect (literally). We have seen better packaging in knock-off smartphones. Hell, I have seen better packaging in McDonalds toys!

Let’s check out a couple unboxing videos that have hit the internet.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if it was just about the box. After all, these users got the device pretty much for free (kind of). The problem here is that users are not getting anything else in the box! No charger, no microUSB cable, no manual, no sim card tray opener… nothing. Just the phone wrapped in bubble wrap and a thank you note.

It’s said OnePlus will be shipping these accessories, along with the box, next month. Some users find no big issue in it, as they may already have enough cables and pins laying around, but this is not the case for everybody.

This is more than just about accessories, cardboard and paper. Is it really fair that a manufacturer would make you buy a microUSB cable and charger after getting one of their devices? Sure, these specific users may have paid only a dollar for it, but they did destroy/donate valuable smartphones for that privilege. Good thing they didn’t have to destroy their chargers, right?!

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And the biggest OnePlus mess…

I simply didn’t know what to feel when I learnt about the following incident. I was laughing on the outside and crying on the inside… and the other way around, too. OnePlus one literally sent an empty box to one of the winners! Well, not completely empty. Scratch that: it had the thank you note inside.

The video has since then been taken down, but the news is all over the internet now! The guys from TuttoSmart.eu were one of the many who reported on it. You can check it out at their site.

Update: Riccardo, the unlucky YT user who received the empty box contacted us to inform us that he suspects that someone involved in shipping the device has stolen it. According to Riccardo, the box had a new sticker applied, suggesting that someone partially opened it and resealed it. OnePlus One is aware of the problem and said it will send a new device. Riccardo says that he removed the video voluntarily, and that he is happy with OnePlus’ assistance.

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What is the problem here?

OnePlus seems to have become too popular for their own good. Though they are managing production in batches and slowing things down with their invite system, so much demand is never easy to handle. Not only that, but OnePlus may not have the most ample budget around, which could be harming the cause.

OnePlus CEO Pete Lau has stated the company is selling the OnePlus One at a cost. This means the company is making no profit out of this smartphone (especially not the ones they gave away). To make matters worse, we are not exactly sure how OnePlus plans to survive doing business like this.

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Other manufacturers have sold devices at a small cost, but that is because they have other ways of making money. Amazon, for example, counts on apps, music, books and other purchases to make up for device losses. Google takes a similar approach with the Nexus devices – they make money from search, ads and media purchases.

How will OnePlus make money? It’s anyone’s guess right now.

Do you care about these problems?

OnePlus has had its hiccups, but ultimately they have accomplished more than some major manufacturers have. They have the whole tech industry in awe and demand is booming. At the end of the day, do you care for these issues?

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A high-end device is a high-end device here, as well as in China. That $300 price point is still stunning, and nothing can change this. What worries me is thinking what OnePlus’ customer service could be like once it launches at full steam.

If they can’t handle sending a hundred units in anything over mediocre packaging, can they handle thousands over thousands of customers? Let’s hope they can, or else this is already a sinking ship. No manufacturer can live just off awesome devices at low prices. There is proof of that all over the industry.