Earlier this week, a new interview with OnePlus co-founder and CEO Pete Lau hit the internet. During the interview, Lau talked quite a bit about the companyâ€™s plans in the near and far off future. He also talked about some cheap OnePlus phones on the way.
While itâ€™s far from a secret at this point that a budget-oriented OnePlus phone is coming soon (likely called the OnePlus Z), one particular quote from Lauâ€™s interview caused us to scratch our heads. The quote came through an interpreter, so maybe somethingâ€™s being lost in translation. At face value, though, itâ€™s a very curious quote about cheap OnePlus phones.
Check out Lauâ€™s quote below:
What weâ€™re seeing is that with current products, thereâ€™s still a demand from a large consumer base for a more suitable price that enables more consumers to be able to access OnePlus products. Thatâ€™s really important insight, and itâ€™s something that weâ€™re taking into very serious consideration.
Cheap OnePlus phones: A no-brainer, right?
Thereâ€™s quite a bit to unpack in the quote above. Lau seems to essentially be saying that people still want cheap smartphones, particularly cheap OnePlus phones. Although he doesnâ€™t specifically say as much, he appears to suggest that heâ€™s been privy to some sort of data or market research that is showing him this desire for inexpensive phones exists.
Let me re-emphasize that. Lau appears to be saying here that heâ€™s just recently discovered that people still want to buy phones that arenâ€™t expensive.
I donâ€™t know about you, but that just seems off to me. How could the CEO of an incredibly successful smartphone company not understand the smartphone industry as it currently stands? One of the worldâ€™s current best-selling Android phones is a mid-ranger from Samsung. That same companyâ€™s 2020 flagship line â€” which is unbelievably expensive â€” is currently floundering. The most popular iPhones of 2019 and 2020 so far are the least-expensive models. I mean, I could go on and on with sales data that shows smartphone consumers naturally gravitate towards less expensive devices.
Meanwhile, there really arenâ€™t any cheap OnePlus phones anymore. The company started out with a $300 â€œflagship killerâ€� in the OnePlus One, but now even the cheapest entry in the OnePlus 8 line starts at more than double that.
It doesnâ€™t take a brilliant market analyst to know that cheap OnePlus phones are essential. The company needs them to remain competitive but also needs them because thatâ€™s what the brand was founded on.
Yet, here we are, with the CEO acting as if this is some sort of revelatory info.
Maybe this is getting lost in translationâ€¦
Once again, Lau is not a native English speaker, and itâ€™s quite possible his statement wasnâ€™t translated as best as it could have been. But as it stands, this makes it seem like Lau is genuinely surprised that people want cheap OnePlus phones. In the last half of the quote, he even says as much: â€œThatâ€™s really important insight, and itâ€™s something that weâ€™re taking into very serious consideration.â€�
Surely the CEO of OnePlus knows and understands that you, the consumer, wants to spend less money on phones, right?
In a way, this is kind of similar to the problems Google faces with its Pixel line. Every regular reader ofÂ Android Authority can tell you that Google Pixel smartphones are dragged down by their poor battery life. Yet, somehow, the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL shipped with smaller batteries than the previous models. How is that even possible? How did Google ever think that would be a good idea?
Lauâ€™s comments here caused me to scratch my head in the same way. How is this news to him? How could he run a company as successful as OnePlus and not fully grasp the consumers who buy his products? Pete Lau might not be a daily reader of Android Authority, but surely he keeps up on the market news somehow, right?
â€¦or maybe itâ€™s just pre-emptive PR
I have no doubt that Pete Lau is a smart guy. If the confusing quote about cheap OnePlus phones isnâ€™t something thatâ€™s just getting lost in translation, then it is more likely than not a bit of pre-emptive PR.
OnePlus faces some incredibly stiff competition in the smartphone space. Not only does it need to go up against Samsung, Apple, and Huawei, but it also canâ€™t ignore the other phone companies pushing out a never-ending stream of mid-rangers and budget phones. Iâ€™m talking about Xiaomi and its sub-brands, Realme, and even HMD Global with its line of Nokia handsets.
Itâ€™s possible that this quote from Lau could be used later as a kind of, â€œSee, we know our customers want cheap OnePlus phones, and we listen to our customers!â€� Of course, since OnePlus phones have done nothing but increase in price for the past four years that statement will be easily refuted â€” but that doesnâ€™t really matter when it comes to PR.
Now, to be fair, cheap OnePlus phones are definitely on the way. We donâ€™t know too much for certain about them, but Lau says they are coming and we have some rumors that suggest they are going to be cool. How successful these phones will be, though, we are not sure. But at least Lau isnâ€™t just blowing smoke and isnâ€™t just ignorant of the market â€” the budget-oriented OnePlus phones people want are on the way.
For now, Iâ€™m just going to chalk up this quote as some pre-emptive PR strategy. It doesnâ€™t sit right with me to think of it that way, but hey: if it helps bring about cheap OnePlus phones, Iâ€™m all for it.