We've been following the journey of the ZTE Hawkeye since its beginnings last summer as Project CSX. The idea was to crowdsource an innovative idea for a new smartphone. Unfortunately, response to the Kickstarter campaign has been tepid at best and now ZTE has decided that it's going to "phase out" the campaign for now.
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; however, this doesn’t mean the project is over. 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 problem, and this was something I discussed with ZTE VP of technology planning and partnerships Jeff Yee a few weeks ago, was a misinterpretation of what consumers actually wanted. The focus for ZTE was the Hawkeye's unique eye-tracking feature. They wanted to make the device accessible to emerging markets and thus the Hawkeye received decidedly mid-range specs to achieve the lower-end price.
The people had a different idea. They wanted high-end specs on a high-end phone to go with this flagship feature. ZTE didn't recognize that early adopters have a habit of wanting the best of the best. So, while ZTE was offering the Hawkeye on Kickstarter for just $200, it's not what the people actually wanted. In the end, a mere 190 backers pledged just $36,245, well short of the $500,000 funding goal.
So, what now? ZTE is turning back to its Z-Community forum for more customer feedback. They're looking into what specs people really want (and are willing to pay for). Upgrading to a Snapdragon 835 is probably out of the question, but people have asked for it. They're hoping to still ship the Hawkeye within the calendar year, but they are definitely pushing back the release date. All 190 backers will be getting a refund in the meantime, of course.