Wednesday, 29 March 2017

ZTE takes crowd-sourced phone back to the drawing board

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Monday 20 February 17

Chinese vendor re-evaluating Project CSX after backers call for better specification.

ZTE is having a rethink about its crowd-sourced smartphone, Project CSX, amid pressure from people backing the project to improve its specification. Officially launched by ZTE USA in August 2016, Project CSX invited consumers to pitch ideas for a new device and vote for their favourite submission…

ZTE is having a rethink about its crowd-sourced smartphone, Project CSX, amid pressure from people backing the project to improve its specification.

Officially launched by ZTE USA in August 2016, Project CSX invited consumers to pitch ideas for a new device and vote for their favourite submission. The rules stipulated that it had to be a mobile product: portable and able to connect to a cellular, WiFi or Bluetooth network. The product also needed to be technically feasible and affordable for the general population.

The winning design was a top-of-the-line smartphone, called Hawkeye, with an adhesive backing and eye-tracking technology to enable hands-free operation.

However, in order to incorporate those unique features and ensure that Hawkeye was affordable, ZTE proposed to equip it with a mid-range processor, RAM, screen, and storage that would allow it to price the device at $199.

This did not go down well with the community, and a $500,000 Kickstarter campaign aimed at funding production of the device in time for it to go on sale this September was cancelled late last week.

"Based on the feedback we've received on both Kickstarter and our own Z-Community Forum, we've decided to phase out this campaign; however, this doesn't mean the project is over," said Jeff Yee, vice president of technology planning and partnerships at ZTE USA, in a blog post.

"You requested that the winning Project CSX idea – an eye-tracking, self adhesive phone – be implemented on a higher spec'd device than what we initially proposed through Kickstarter," he continued.

A poll of community members found that backers considered a better chipset, battery and OS as the three most important improvements that were needed.

"We've heard you loud and clear as we are re-evaluating the device features that are implemented into the device," Yee said.

Yee said Hawkeye's release date has been pushed back in order to deliver a higher-specification device.

"We are still finalising the new date," he said. "We will continue providing updates and collaborate with the community throughout the entire process."

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