With the perks of getting help, even funding, from the public comes the risks of increased scrutiny and sometimes even scathing criticism. Such is the lesson that ZTE is learning now after what was a smooth-flowing crowdsourced stunt turned into a crowdfunding disappointment. The Kickstarter for Hawkeye, the crowdsourced eye-tracking self-adhesive phone, seems to be beyond hope and ZTE is very likely to just cancel it. Not all hope, however, is lost because that could give way to a new Kickstarter with a higher end smartphone being offered.
It’s not that the idea of a self-adhesive eye-tracking smartphone turned out to be a dud. Well, it could still be in the bigger international market, but ZTE’s Project CSX, or Crowd Sourced X, had enough believers to possibly fund such a device on Kickstarter. No, the problem is that reality failed to meet expectations, with ZTE Hawkeye turning out with very mediocre specs.
ZTE admits that it made a mistake, particularly in communicating the goals of the project and anticipating their customers’ preferences. The final Project CSX product was meant to be something that was affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. In practice, that usually translates to a mid-range phone with mid-range pricing, which is exactly what Hawkeye is. The problem, however, is that the people who are interested in Hawkeye are the so-called early adopters, who settle for nothing less than high end features, usually at still palatable price tags.
The one advantage of ZTE’s crowdsourcing approach is that it could easily go back to the drawing board to correct its errors. It’s not like it’s a startup whose existence critically depends on this one Kickstarter. If the run doesn’t meet its funding goals, ZTE could just start anew. Actually, it might never reach that point. It’s most likely that ZTE will just cancel this current Kickstarter and replace it with a new one. One that offers slightly higher features.
Don’t get your hopes up too high though. The Hawkeye is unlikely to become a flagship killer in its next iteration. ZTE still has to keep things within budget and within that “affordable” goal, so it will be limiting the upgrades to as few aspects as possible. It is already running a poll on which upgrades users want to see, but sifting through the myriad voices is admittedly proving to be difficult as well.