|Source: OnePlus Blog|
Why I think the invite system is (was) a bad idea
While I think the reasons OnePlus listed for the invite system were valid, and do make sense in terms of business, I still disagree on a few points. I'm also going to explain reasons for why I think the invite system was a bad idea/failure below.
One of the main reasons why OnePlus had an invite system in the first place is to insure that every device was sold. However, this phone gained a lot of popularity when it was first showcased & featured in the US. Demand for this phone was so high, that invites were even being sold for hundreds-to-thousands of dollars on Ebay. That's how bad the demand was.
Because of this incredible demand, I cannot see why the invite system still existed in the first place. OnePlus certainly paid the price of not having enough invites, and that's something I'll talk about later on.
I'm not going to get too in depth on this topic, because the internet speaks for itself. Because there was such high demand for invites, people were just about willing to do anything to get their hands on one. OnePlus threw a few marketing campaigns for users to receive invites to buy the OnePlus One. Unfortunately, it actually backfired on OnePlus. Their marketing failures are ones to be remembered -- and laughed at. I hope they don't make the same mistakes again, ever.
The wait was way too long for some
Another main reason why the invite system was a bad idea was because of the scarcity of invites (but on an even worse scale). There were thousands who would love to buy a OnePlus One back then, but since then moved onto other phones because they couldn't wait long enough to get an invite. That's a shame because I have no doubts that the phone is impressive, but the phone is only impressive if people could have actually gotten their hands on it. Here are some examples: (1) (2) (3) (4) (5).
It's too late to be a flagship killer
Back when this device launched, it really was the "Flagship Killer" that it claimed itself to be. It had the Snapdragon 801 CPU, when many devices still rocked the 800. However, other OEMs ship the 801 already. The OnePlus One is no longer a "Flagship Killer". It's just a very competitively-priced phone.
This phone had a major chance to become one of the best selling phones of all time. It offered better hardware than the Nexus 5 (in terms of CPU), a bigger screen, and CyanogenMod out of the box. CyanogenMod alone created a nice experience for those who wanted Android, with more customization options. Because OnePlus was very conservative in producing this phone, it quite honestly blew its chance to be big. This phone is still rather large in the tech community, but that's just about all it'll ever be. The hype for the device is gone.
The next Nexus phone (rumored to be Nexus X (6)) is on the horizon
This section is pretty much self-explanitory. The Nexus line of phones and tablets are the easiest and "official" way to receive a pure Android experience. A new Nexus phone launches around October or November, and the specs expected in each release are a bigger improvement over the previous generation.
What this means is that the Nexus 6 will more than likely have better hardware than the OnePlus One. The OnePlus One will still be competitive in terms of price, but that's about it. The Nexus 6 will be available immediately when it is launched, without an invite. While it might be more expensive than the OnePlus One, you can expect better hardware out of the box.
The OnePlus One invite system
As explained to me by a friend who has a OnePlus One, when you buy the device, you'll eventually receive invites to send to others. When you send those invites to people, they have 24 hours to claim the invite. You claim the invite by actually buying the device. You can't claim the invite and buy the phone later on, so folks saving money for the device are pretty much SOL here. The pre-order program is supposed to be a solution to this issue, but like I said -- It could be too late.
Honestly, I think the OnePlus One is a great device for what it set out to do, however, I think that OnePlus really missed out on a chance to capture the attention of the entire market, and currently the hype for this phone is pretty-much non-existant. If users can't get the device, they can buy other flagships from different companies that offer similar or the same specs.
For OnePlus' next device, I really hope they learn from their mistakes. They can't play conservative if they want to make a big footprint. They have to take risks. Inventory risk was a bad excuse for when this phone was in extreme demand.