OnePlus needs a new strategy if it really wants to become a mainstream brand. Its phones aren’t sold through a ton of channels, and that has been a major hindrance to its expansion.
In 2018, OnePlus might finally get help from at least one U.S. carrier to launch its next flagship. CEO Pete Lau confirmed that, in the coming weeks and months, there will be conversations held with the companies behind the biggest networks in the country. No specific names were mentioned, but OnePlus clearly understands availability through carriers is a must at this point.
Here’s what Lau told CNET:
“If the right opportunity and right timing come along, we’ll be very happy to experiment.”
The most obvious partners to sell the OnePlus 6 would be AT&T and T-Mobile as their networks are GSM-based, a technology standard in many parts of the world. But it’d be wise for OnePlus to make the phone compatible and Verizon and Sprint’s CDMA-based networks. Consumers now want phones that they can easily take between carriers.
Negotiations haven’t started, though, and OnePlus didn’t actually say whether anything would be in place for the OnePlus 6’s launch later this year. In addition to confirming it’ll arrive in the second quarter of the year, Lau admitted Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 845 will be inside.
Striking a deal with any U.S. carrier could be a serious challenge. As we’ve seen recently, it’s not as simple as showing off a fancy phone, signing a piece of paper, and providing units. Huawei was set to make a big push in the U.S. with AT&T’s support; however, the carrier backed out at the last minute. OnePlus, like Huawei, is based in China where there are concerns that local companies are spying on behalf of the Chinese government.
OnePlus’ top executive didn’t say much else about the OnePlus 6. There won’t be any overdone artificial intelligence jargon attached to the phone, and OnePlus won’t say whether or not a tweaked model would follow months after. Other than that, it’s the usual wait-and-see approach.
If OnePlus is able to get its next flagship onto just one U.S. carrier’s lineup, it’d mark a huge achievement for the brand. OnePlus hasn’t ever made an effort to sell phones in the U.S. in any way other than through its own online store. And, since the OnePlus 6 will be a high-end product, it’s possible that a carrier would run advertisements to bring visibility.
Of course there’s also no company in the mobile industry that creates hype like OnePlus. It’s managed to create crazy-good interest among tech-savvy consumers every time a new phone comes around. Pair that with the marketing muscle of a U.S. carrier and maybe the OnePlus 6 will elevate OnePlus globally.