LeEco said that it ran out of stocks during its first open sale of LeTV Le 1s smartphone two days ago due to unexpectedly strong demand and that it would soon conduct more open sales, ditching the pre-registration model.
The phones will be available for anyone to purchase whether they registered in advance or not.
The next open sale is expected by around Tuesday — a day before Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 3 is introduced to India — though no final confirmation has been forthcoming on this regard.
The move to ditch the flash sale model and go for open sale indicates two things: 1) LeTV is going to put up at least around 1 lakh stock each time, and 2) the flash sale format is coming in the way of a smooth transaction.
The biggest problem with the ‘flash’ format has been a tendency by users to reserve the phones and then not go through with the payment. Typically, Flipkart gives a few hours for the buyer to finish the payment process.
However, as soon as someone clicks on buy, the handset is reserved for that person, making it unavailable for others and bringing an end to the procedure for the day.
This process is open to abuse as anyone can reserve a LeTV Le 1s without spending even 1 rupee, and then cancel the purchase later.
Because it’s a flash sale, the company has to wait for another week to put up the unit for purchase again. As a result, the entire stock of the phone was getting depleted in a matter of a few seconds, even though, at the end of the day, the whole stock was not sold.
However, on Feb 25, LeTV tried the open sale method, under which you have to purchase and make a payment immediately.
This resulted in stocks remaining available for about 6 minutes, and genuine buyers were able to order the phone. The only problem was that many people expected lakhs of handsets in stock, but the company clearly underestimated the demand, which continues to remain robust.
According to our poll of 830 people, for every person who managed to buy a 1s on Wednesday, there were more than two persons who tried to get one, but could not.
This indicates strong, and rising, demand.
For example, after the second flash sale, the number of people who bought the phone and those could not was largely even.
The higher proportion of disappointed people this week indicates that instead of demand going down, it is increasing due to strong word-of-mouth publicity. The phone is already the biggest selling 4G phone in India this year.
What remains to be seen is whether the Chinese company is able to cater to it, or whether it will disappoint its fans like Xiaomi was forced to when it first entered India.
However, unlike Xiaomi, which used to put up 10,000-20,000 units per week for sale when first entered the country, LeTV has been putting up 60,000-90,000 phones every week, indicating that it is able to manufacture at a larger scale than Xiaomi was able to at the time.
Meanwhile, the company has pushed out an over-the-air software update that seems to have addressed the main issues reported in user reviews of Le 1s — overheating, poor camera quality, quick depletion of the battery charge and not-so-great sound quality. According to user reports, all four problems have been taken care of, though the camera quality still leaves room for improvement.
Another factor that is going to come into play next week is the launch of Xiaomi’s highly anticipated Redmi Note 3. The Note 3 is identical to Le 1s in many respects, but has a significantly better camera, higher processing power and comes with a hybrid SIM slot and faster and more stable LTE including support for 4G voice or VoLTE.
The Redmi Note 3 will be unveiled next Thursday, and the first sale could take place on the following Monday or Tuesday. The only point of uncertainty as far as the model is concerned will be the price for the 32 GB version. Most fans are looking for a price of Rs 14,000 or so in India, but that is unlikely. A more realistic target would be around Rs 17,500 for the 32 GB version.