The title above is the way in which OnePlus kicked off their 7-day countdown to the unveiling of the OnePlus 2 and is a quote from the company’s CEO, Pete Lau. With only the weekend now to go until the event does take place, the question is one worth discussing. Did OnePlus just get lucky with the One? More importantly (at least from their perspective), can the OnePlus 2 repeat the success OnePlus had with the One?
While many OnePlus One owners will immediately be saying yes they can. In truth, it is not that easy for them. The OnePlus One was a great device, but more importantly, it landed at the right time. It landed when other devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 had been released and were receiving numerous criticisms for their lack of improvements, cheap design, plastic nature and not forgetting, their relatively high costs. As such, when a new device from a new company came and promising a great phone at a rock-bottom price and designed with the consumer in mind, the market was ready. However, the OnePlus 2 is not landing at such a time. Instead, Samsung has just received huge amounts of praise for their Galaxy S6 which was built from the ground-up, LG is impressing with their devices and especially in terms of their camera capabilities, while ASUS wowed the market with a very powerful device at a great price. Not to mention, the OnePlus 2 is coming in the shadows of the One.
In the music industry, there is what is commonly known as Second Album Syndrome. This is where an artist or band has difficulty in living up to the expectations set by their debut and impacting album. Many artists/bands go through this and sometimes it is difficult to know whether it is the fault of the artist/band or whether it is the fault of the industry. For instance, some of the albums that are classed as a product of ‘second album syndrome’, may actually have been great albums in their own right. But maybe the public just had too many lofty expectations or maybe even more simply, their tastes had changed. This is where OnePlus find themselves right now as a company. Just like those bands and artists, this second offering has the power to literally make or break the company. If the OnePlus 2 is considered a failure, it will be difficult for OnePlus to recover from. It is no secret that the company has kept a close rein on their purse strings in an effort to guarantee they can make production costs etc. With the OnePlus 2, they will have taken much more of a gamble. They will have had to predict how many they will sell and plan accordingly. So a OnePlus 2 failure will hurt them financially. More importantly though, is their reputation. OnePlus are considered a game-changer in the mobile world. They did change the game, therefore, to stay current they will also have to be able to change the game once more. If the public sees the OnePlus 2 as a dated device (in spite of its specs and features), then the interest the consumers lose will cost them even more than it will financially.
In some respects, we have seen this happen already this year with the HTC One M9. On paper, the One M9 is one of the best phones you can buy. That cannot be argued with and yet, when it was unveiled, the excitement instantly left the building. The public was just not interested in the One M9 once they saw it. They certainly were before the device launched and HTC had done everything right, but Samsung has just released a crazy double edged shiny Galaxy S6 Edge. Whether this was a direct cause or not, the tastes of the consumer had obviously changed. The same effectively happened last year to Samsung with the Galaxy S5. Consumer taste had changed and the device was just not considered good enough anymore, although in every respect it was an upgrade. So, this is not just a OnePlus issue and many manufacturers go through this at some point in their life. Most often, when their latest device follows in the footsteps of a popular device, the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One M8 or the OnePlus One. The problem for OnePlus is that the OnePlus One was their first device. Samsung and HTC are much bigger companies and had the wits about them to be able to ride the storm of criticisms and push forward with their next devices. In Samsung’s case, this was the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge and presumably the same will happen with HTC and their next One incarnation.
But can OnePlus do the same? Weather the storm of the public thinking their second device has stagnated? The truth is, it is too difficult to guess. Yes, they could probably manage to push out another device next year (or earlier if the rumors are to be believed), but would the high public demand and interest still be there? Would it have the same sort of impact that we are seeing now and days before a launch? Probably not. Not to mention this week saw the first indicators that disappointment is a real possibility. While the company has confirmed all the great specs like 4GB RAM, the most up-to-date processor (even if it is the overheating Snapdragon 810), fingerprint sensor, Type-C USB, the pictures that emerged this week showed a device not too dissimilar from the One. Comments immediately began to surface from the OnePlus diehard that this better not be the OnePlue 2. In truth, it probably better not. I have a OnePlus One and it works fine and I am not sure that based on the looks, I would bother migrating to the OnePlus 2.
The irony is the OnePlus One was a device they could afford to lose with. Expectations were minimal and the impact of a bad device would have been equally minimal. With the OnePlus 2, the expectations are sky high and therefore, the impact of a flop device has to be equally as high. Should OnePlus be worried? Yes, they should.