By now you may have seen or heard of +OnePlus
, a young company looking to make an impact with the upcoming release of their first device.
From the beginning +CyanogenMod
was their OS of choice to power the device; well before hardware was even planned or engineering units were produced.
I met Pete, their CEO, while he was still at Oppo and as Cyanogen Inc. was playing catch up with the N1 device. We were chatting about the incumbents in the device market and how CM's community and growth is driven by the users. We do not have a marketing campaign, no fulltime PR team and no ads on the Superbowl. But still we manage to grow at a steady rate. The growth we see is all about the users genuinely enjoying our work, the customization & expression of self it offers and advocating for it.
Most hardware vendors have lost sight of the user piece. Money is spent piling in new specs, features, and silly ads but it seems like no one takes that step back to say "is this useful for the people buying it?
Pete and I discussed what a new model for hardware vendors would look like. Not quite a modular phone (that market is a few years out), but something less rigid than the status quo. Much like CM lets the user's voice shine through the software, there should be a way for the users voice to resonate through the hardware. Listen to the community at the design phase for starters. Yes, you'll get wildly differing opinions, but this information is invaluable - they are practically telling you what it would take for them to buy your product, it would be downright stupid to ignore that. Maybe you can't get everything off of everyone's wish list, just showing that you are listening will keep those people interested in your future products.
The team at OnePlus understands this. They are asking the right questions on their forums, running community polls about hardware and software components. By focusing their efforts to online marketing only, they can pass on savings to the users. The build quality and design of the devices we have been working with are what you would expect from a premium phone. A top of the line phone with 90% of what most people want in a phone for a reasonable price, this should be the model OEMs follow.
I'm glad to say that we are involved in that revolution.