ZTE kills its crowdsourced phone Kickstarter campaign

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Hey Alexa, does this look infected?

Project CSX was a nice enough idea: Get the smartphone community engaged and excited and maybe even gather some good, outside-the-box ideas for mobile devices along the way. In a sense, the project was ZTE’s attempt to foster the sort of community excitement we’ve seen around young companies like OnePlus — and it started off well enough.

But then things sort of fell apart at the seams, step by step, and now ZTE is putting the skids on its crowdfunding campaign, having scored just north of $36,000 of its lofty $500,000 goal. The company posted an update on its Kickstarter page, announcing the end of the campaign:

Project CSX has always been about going against the norm and trying something different. But above all, it’s been about listening to you, the consumer. Based on the feedback we’ve received on both Kickstarter and our own Z-Community forum, we’ve decided to phase out this campaign.

It’s no surprise, really. In spite of a number of attempts to drum up excitement, ZTE just couldn’t move the needle. Issues trace back as least as far as the voting stages, when the fairly mundane self-adhesive, eye-tracking proposal beat out some truly far-out pitches, like a VR diving mask and a glove that taught users how to play the piano.

Not that either of those were particularly marketable, mind — but they did seem to embody the spirit of excitement ZTE was attempting to foster early on better than the project that would become Hawkeye.

The crowdfunding aspect also stumbled out of the gate, as ZTE didn’t offer up much in the way of specs, no doubt looking to squeeze out multiple announcements as it worked toward its goal. When it ultimately did announce, things were lackluster, to say the least. The company ultimately apologized for the whole thing, asking users to “choose one or two things to improve the specs of the Hawkeye phone to make it more attractive.”

That was January 23. The campaign was hovering around $35,000 at the time. From the looks of it, things didn’t improve much after that.

That said, the company insists that it’s carrying on with the project, stating, “We are reevaluating the device for the winning Project CSX idea — an eye-tracking feature with self adhesive backing — and it will be implemented based on your feedback.” The new timeline is still TBD, but the company has promised a more premium device next time around.