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OnePlus ships 500,000 phones, targets 1 million by end of year

With only two months left to the end of the year, the 8-month-old Chinese phonemaker has set itself an ambitious target for the holiday season.

OnePlus has sold 500,000 of its flagship phones so far. Aloysius Low/CNET

OnePlus, the latest fledgling smartphone maker from China, has sold half a million units of its bargain high-end OnePlus One phone since April, the 8-month-old company has announced. Not content with that milestone, it hopes to hit a million devices sold by the end of the year.

With two months left this year, OnePlus is hoping that the upcoming holiday season will trigger a windfall of orders for its $299 flagship smartphone. Carl Pei, OnePlus co-founder and director, told Forbes that shipments continue to climb, though despite the hype that's driven the company's sales so far, generating a profit remains elusive.

Pei admits that its monetization strategy, much like its much larger Chinese rival Xiaomi, doesn't rely on unit sales as it makes less than $10 for each device sold. OnePlus lags far behind Xiaomi's 26 million devices sold in the first half of this year alone. (For comparison, Apple is predicted to sell 60 million iPhones in the final quarter of 2014.)

"That's not the way we're going to make money in the future," he explained to Forbes. "It's just to keep the operation going."

Having built a brand around bargain hardware and online buzz, OnePlus plans to make real money through the sales of accessories and software.

Currently, OnePlus sells its devices online only, in batches via invitations. These can only be obtained via OnePlus' contests on social media or from existing OnePlus owners, limiting demand but increasing buzz.

At the same time, it's no secret that the company has in the past struggled to fulfill orders, which OnePlus has chalked up to weakness in its supply chain.

With the year coming to a close and a lofty goals set, however, the company has already started a pre-order system that enables customers to buy directly, with round two slated to return on November 17.