While new startups pop up all the time, Lau’s experience with Chinese device maker Oppo suggest that he knows what he’s doing — and one of the things he may be doing is partnering with the Android software developers at CyanogenMod Inc.
In November Lau met with CyanogenMod’s Steve Kondik and Koushik Dutta, and while he didn’t commit to actually producing anything new with the developers, Lau hadn’t actually launched his company yet.
CyanogenMod began as a custom version of Google’s open source Android operating system, developed by hobbyists. Earlier this year the lead developers formed a company and announced their first hardware partner — Oppo. The Oppo N1 is the first phone that officially supports CyanogenMod (as opposed to being a phone that’s officially supported by CyanogenMod, like the Google Nexus line of devices).
Does this mean that OnePlus will launch phones that come with CyanogenMod preloaded? Maybe. But it could also just mean that the founders of two startups in the mobile space have some ideas to share with one another. Or maybe OnePlus phones will take a page out of the Oppo playbook: Oppo N1 customers have the option of running CyanogenMod on their devices, but they can also choose models with Oppo’s own version of Android, called Color OS.
One thing is clear: Lau seems to think there’s room in the smartphone space for something better. The company website features the phrase “never settle” overlaid on a picture of existing smartphones. The image of those phones is not-so-subtly labeled pileofcrap.jpg.
Right now OnePlus seems to be asking for input on what consumers are looking for in smartphones — you can weigh in at the already-pretty-active OnePlus forum.