Building Camels

ZTE Is Designing a Smartphone by a Massive Committee

Has mobile innovation hit a wall? Here’s an idea on finding ideas.

ZTE is now collecting input for its 2017 mobile product. The unknown device, now with code name Project CSX, will be based around ideas from participants. Input must be technically feasible given the timeline, it should be affordable to the general public and it should be a mobile device of some kind.

It’s hard not to like an endeavour that looks to democratise design. After all, every user certainly has their feature wish list. This is their opportunity to be heard.

Given the potential for massive amounts of submissions, there is bound to be some original ideas from tech-savvy users and from those looking for more simplicity. ZTE is offering some light cash rewards with the hope that it can lead to a fresh type of mobile product. In the coming age of the Internet of things, anything can be mobile.

ZTE isn’t the first company to put out a suggestion box, but the proposition of crowd-sourcing hardware “from start to finish” as ZTE CEO Lixin Chen puts it, is certainly fascinating. Major manufacturers have groups dedicated to working with the given technical specs, operator requirements and government regulations to hatch new products. It’s a long process, but we don’t doubt that, in the end, ZTE will have a new product or two to show off.

For ZTE, there’s certainly goodwill to gain here. Project CSX shows that the company respects the opinion of a global audience and consumers, better than anyone, can find gaps in the portfolio.

ZTE is very intent on building a global brand. The company has raced ahead to become a top handset maker, challenging established players on price and innovation. A camel might be a horse designed by committee, but ZTE is looking sleek.