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ZTE’s smartphone crowdfunding campaign went really, really badly

ZTE has prematurely ended a crowdfunding campaign that was designed to bring the vision of the brand’s fans to life. Unfortunately, it seems fans had other ideas.

The company had been hoping to raise $500,000 or more for its Project CSX handset, but when it was drawn to a close with just over one day left to run, it had raised just $36,245. In a project update noting the end of the fundraising, ZTE said that the project itself wasn’t necessarily dead.

“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,” a spokesperson wrote.

However, it’s hard to imagine the commercial sense in persevering with the launch of a product that’s destined to only be of interest to a very limited audience. Instead, the company’s going to review the hardware specs of the project, while still with the intention of keeping the self-adhesive backing and eye-tracking, to make the device more competitive. Several comments on the Kickstarter campaign noted that the proposed specs weren’t up to scratch.

The original estimated delivery date for the devices was set for September this year, but ZTE says that when the handset does arrive, it’ll be later than that due to the as-yet undecided changes in specs. Anyone that backed the original project won’t be charged the $199 pledge amount, as it wasn’t successfully funded.

While it’s probably the right move from ZTE, it’s a bit of an embarrassing situation too – trying to build support for your next device through crowdfunding to involve the community was always going to be a bit of a risk. It’s by no means the first company to try and crowdfund new smartphones though. The Nextbit Robin is an example of a successful campaign, while Ubuntu unsuccessfully tried to raise $32 million for its Edge smartphone back in 2013

Related: Nextbit Robin review

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Was this project doomed to fail or just unlucky? Let us know in the comments below!

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