Since its inception, OnePlus has tied up with Amazon India to be the exclusive retail partner for its phones in the country. That's the case for the OnePlus 3 as well, but it looks like Amazon's chief competitor, Flipkart, didn't get the message. In a banner ad highlighting its upcoming Big Shopping Days, Flipkart is touting a discount of at least ₹8,000 ($120) on the OnePlus 3, bringing the phone to under ₹20,000 ($295). To put things into context, Amazon India is selling the OnePlus 3 for ₹27,999 ($415).
The discount is certainly enticing, but there's one catch: Flipkart isn't authorised to sell the OnePlus 3 in India. The move caught OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei by surprise as well, who called out Flipkart's co-founder Sachin Bansal on Twitter:
OnePlus India issued the following statement, reiterating its commitment to Amazon:
OnePlus is focused on creating premium flagship smartphones. We have an exclusive partnership with Amazon in India. We advice customers to purchase OnePlus products only through official channels as we cannot guarantee the authenticity of the products sold elsewhere.
OnePlus is absolutely within its rights to deny warranty for units sold via Flipkart. We don't know why Flipkart thought it was a good move to discount a product that's exclusive to another retailer, but it's in very poor taste. It isn't like OnePlus is looking to expand its presence in India by making its phones available on other e-commerce platforms. The company's partnership with Amazon India is going really well, with the retailer set to carry the Chinese manufacturer's phones exclusively for the foreseeable future.
In a recent forum post, Pei said that picking Amazon to be the launch partner was "one of the best things we've done:"
The first time Pete and I met with Amit, head of Amazon India, things clicked. We spent the entire meeting talking about culture, the importance of being consumer-centric, as well as how to think long term. If we could align on culture and principles, we figured that details would be easy to take care of. And that's how things actually unfolded. Working with an exclusive partner is like getting married. When we entered India, every brand was married to a platform. Today, the Amazon OnePlus marriage is the only one that remains in India.
It isn't hard to see why Flipkart would want to sell the OnePlus 3. The handset is one of the most popular on Amazon, and for under ₹30,000, it is the best phone you can currently buy in the country.
Although Flipkart is the leader in the e-commerce segment, Amazon is closing in on the retailer. Earlier this month, Flipkart's co-founder Sachin Bansal urged the Indian government to roll out policies to favor "homegrown companies:"
What we need to do is what China did (15 years ago) and tell the world we need your capital, but we don't need your companies.
That statement is particularly rich coming from Flipkart, a company that is registered in Singapore. That's before you consider that U.S.-based Tiger Global owns a 30% stake in the retailer. With Amazon heavily investing in the country — to the tune of $3 billion — Flipkart is running out of options, and it looks like will now resort to any measure to get a leg up.
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