OnePlus – Flagship killer OR a Giant Slayer ????

OPOOK … i’ll start off by being honest here … I’ve been living with a Samsung smartphone, which for the better part of the past two years has served me well, taken quite a few knocks and still managed to live through. However, lately, the poor old thing hasn’t just been able to keep up with the change and has slowly been dying on me…(Slow is an understatement, at times, while opening up contacts, you can go and make a coffee while it opens up)! So I started off on this quest of smartphone research and check the next phone that could serve me well, for say, at least another two years. After a lot of research (and that’s been quite a bit over the past two months), the OPO seemed to be best choice, both by specs as well as price. But little did I know the effort required to get a phone. In a country, where phones are available dime a dozen, here is a phone that you actually need to work for to own!! And that started off this quest of trying to understand OPO ….

So here is a firm / start-up that has managed to shake things up a bit with the launch of a phone with flagship features at an unbeatable price! For that, one must hand it to OPO! Awesome!! In the process, you have also broken up all previous practices of technology product sales by going in for an invite-based system. Does it work, we don’t really know do we, unless some financials come up ….

So why go for this system, especially when you need to really make a splash in the market?

  • As a new firm, OPO needs to be in total control of its manufacturing. Based out of China, doesn’t always inspire a lot of confidence. By opting for an invite-based sale, OPO is able to manage demand and its Supply Chain. This will ensure that the products coming off its stable are top-notch in build and quality! Secondly, this will also help the firm establish its image as being SEEN as a value-driven smartphone manufacturer, rather than a volume-based one!
  • A lot of focus seems to be on how OPO is managing its cost, while many state the absence of a marketing and distribution spend to be the factor in OPO managing to sell a premium phone at such a low price. It cannot be the only factor. OPO may only be generating wafer-thin margins here. Because, there is only so much one can do with manufacturing costs. Smartphone manufacturing is primarily an assembly driven process with the major costs being of the components that make up the smartphone. Since OPO does not have the scale, the components cost would not have been any lower than say a Xiaomi (possibly could only have cost more to OPO). Cost cannot be just the factor for this Go-To-Market Model.
  • While product build and manufacturing control may be a key decision, I guess, this is still more of a brand-building exercise and that’s a good thing. On many of the posts by OPO members, it seems that the firm is OK with not making money the first two years. While that means, there is some serious investment backing with the firm, it also means, that the firm is here for the long run! By creating a demand, the firm is also creating a following. Going by the number of members on the OPO site and the number of invite requests, even going by the steps people are willing to take to get a phone (look at me, writing a blog!! J ); it’s mighty laudable. The only other firms that have managed to build such a cult following is Apple and to a lesser extent Google (with Android – with its primary position of being free and anti-Apple). It is here that I see OPO facing a challenge, challenge of Scale and Personality. Google has the scale and strength of technology; Apple has(d) a charismatic leadership and a brand following cultivated over the past two decades (and more). OPO has a long way to play catch-up; in an area where none of the other manufacturers (even Samsung) have been able to muster any following.

Today, the following is more focused on getting an invite and being part of the ecosystem. Developing a loyal fanbase, would require OPO to be making a lot more efforts; such as, regular members-only events, campaigns, off-market discounts, accessories, personalized mailers and the likes. OPO has a good following, but now the firm needs to improve on the quality and type of following it wants and work towards it.

All in all, it takes courage to shake-up a market that has players worth billions and also a market that has seen the demise of erstwhile giants (read Nokia, Motorola, etc.). Is OPO the flagship killer or a giant slayer. Guess only time will tell.

Till then … NEVER SETTLE!!

Note: This was also posted to the OnePlus forum (in the hope of getting an invite … which I did, within minutes…!!🙂 )

Ek Over Duniya Badlegi … Seriously?

The World T20 started yesterday with its usual hype and hoopla. The cricket establishment too has been clever scheduling warm-up matches between major nations and maximize revenue potential. Despite my many attempts to feign indifference towards this commercial form of cricket, I couldn’t help sneak a peek. Well, about the match, it was a usual T20, more or less like the majority of Salman movies that you’ve been watching over the past 5 years. But what caught the eye, was this one commercial that was televised between every other over ‘Bas Ek Over Duniya Badlegi’.

This ad is in a series of commercials that depict various memorable moments in a T20 match and highlight the unpredictable nature of this particular version of cricket and celebrates it. The other commercials involve the 6 sixes by Yuvraj Singh and the match between Australia and Pakistan won single handedly by Hussey!

As you’ve seen, this particular commercial starts with a group of bearded men wearing skullcaps watching pensively and then rejoicing at what is seemingly a wicket having fallen. The next visual shows a group of distraught young kids upset at the fall of wicket. The info  strip below highlights the progress of an over. The first 3 balls are W,0,W and highlights growing frustration among one group and celebration in the other. The next three balls are 0, 6, 6 and the emotions have now turned with the group that was in despair now in joyous mood, apparently having won the match, while the other group now in tears. The commercial ends with the joyous group of kids waving India flags while a angry looking bearded guy expresses his dissatisfaction. The ad conveys the nature of T20, where a single over can decide the fate of a match. Who can forget the exploits of Yuvraj Sing or the last over by Joginder Sharma, T20 is just as such a pure masala entertainer and the commercial is pretty much bang on target! Kudos to the creative team!!

However, is this ad really worth celebrating the nature of T20? Look closely, the bearded men represent cricket lovers of Pakistan while the group of young men represent Indian fans. The commercial alternates between visuals of fans of both the countries. Fans of Pakistan depicted as bearded people wearing traditional kurta pajamas with scarves over their shoulder and skullcaps on their head. Indian fans on the other hand are depicted as young guys with a more fashionable dressing. It seems, Pakistan is full of middle-aged bearded men wearing skullcaps while India has no one above the age of 20; barring Kapil Dev ofcourse!

To think that we are living in a pluralistic society; with our youth of today raising their voice against corruption, supporting Anna and the AAP and then to see such a commercial that is so blatantly stereotypical of people belonging to both the nations is a shocker. The purpose of this commercial is just to raise stakes, increase the decibel levels around an expected India-Pak match and stir up emotions. The stirring up of emotions can be seen in the comments section of this Youtube link itself. It pains to see people cursing each other! This ad fulfills its aim of raising up the dying feeling around an India-Pak match and is pretty much successful in spreading hatred and animosity between people from India and Pakistan.

I am sure this commercial is only targeted at viewers in India; with the hope that it will stir up enough emotions and get people to watch this World Cup. I don’t know who has created this commercial; the Youtube uploader is World Commercials, but I’m not sure if they’re the creative force behind this commercial. Well, whoever is involved in creating this commercial, their brief seems to have been simple and straight -racket up emotions and get the TRP’s higher! There seems to be a daunting realization among  the people running cricket in India and abroad that TRP’s are gradually coming down. People are tired of the incessant cricket, especially the large number of inconsequential matches that India plays. Imagine an insipid series with West Indies just to cater to Sachin’s retirement and hoping for the retirement century or a brief ‘2-Test’ series scheduled with South Africa that also India managed to lose followed again by another series with New Zealand followed immediately by an Asia Cup that had Afghanistan and Bangladesh along with the traditional players Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. Here too India failed to reach the final. It is but obvious that people are going to get turned off, plus, with the election fever on, are people really going to be watching a World Cup that is held every year?

So it was obvious, lets queer the pitch, stir up some (old) emotions, racket up the pressure and hope people will fire up and watch. It’s pretty much the same tactic that the BJP uses by stirring up the Temple and Uniform Civil Code issue every election year! But, to rake up such issues for a cricket match is crossing the line and in this spirit, the advertisement is way below par and deserves condemnation. I’m pretty sure the BCCI will care a damn about such a commercial, but I sincerely hope someone in administration notices and puts a stop to such ads that spread hatred and animosity. If not, at least our targeted youth should come forward and use their social skills to pan this ad!

Bas Ek Over toh Duniya Badlegi, but our response to such crass commercials can surely serve as a feedback and hopefully …. ‘Duniya Badlegi’

P.S.: Couldn’t help putting in an earlier review of mine ‘Aman ki Aasha’ a commercial created by Taproot for the India-Pak series held somewhere around December 2012…a classic!