OnePlus began in 2013 as a direct-to-consumer online smartphone brand, flying its flag of “flagship killer”. This continued for its OnePlus One and Two launches, but now they are trying a different approach. 

Now an older (and as a result, wiser) company, the company is taking a more strctured form of marketing and has started to diversify its mode of distribution. To that end, today it announced an exclusive partnership with O2 in the UK. Previously, it was available only through an obscure invitation system. Now, OnePlus’ smartphones will fill up O2’s UK stores. This will serve as a boost towards expanding brand awareness, and also build it up through collaborative marketing.

Speaking to The Verge, OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei said:

Just doing online direct-to-consumer might not be the right perspective long term, and if you have one exclusive partner, you can think more long-term about how to build a brand.

The OnePlus 3 will be the first phone to reap in the benefits of this new partnership. It becomes available in O2 retail and online stores from September 29th starting at £28 per month for 500MB of data, and at no upfront cost. Purchasing OnePlus 3 will also be possible off-contract. Consumers will largely benefit from this venture because, in the more traditional mobile retail model, buying a OnePlus from O2 means they’ll be able to walk in to an O2 store and get support for their device directly from the carrier. This takes care of one of the significant weaknesses with OnePlus’ current distribution and support operation.

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Though this is a Chinese company, its main focus is Western European countries as well as India for their market. It has already begun the search for further exclusive carrier partnerships beyond the UK, with the Nordic region being next on its list. Pei said:

“We looked at e-commerce shipments, and all the cities where they had very high-per capita usage, and found London is number one in the world. Nordics, countries like Sweden and Denmark, also rank very high.”

The O2 agreement therefore comes at a time when consumer demand in the UK is a huge driving force for this kind of partnership, and Pei brings attention to this by saying:

“Whatever we do in terms of product, we will consider European and Indian users first.”

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