US phone company asks public to design their own smartphones

Electronics manufacturer ZTE USA has launched a crowdsourcing scheme which will ask the public to design their ideal smartphones.

Courtesy of ZTE
Courtesy of ZTE

Smartphone manufacturer ZTE USA has announced plans to design a crowdsourced mobile phone as part a new consumer initiative called Project CSX.

ZTE CEO Jeff Yee caught the public attention by suggesting the possibility of a flexible screen for the device when he announced the project at the CES conference in Las Vegas.

A crowdsourced design community

The company plans to collect consumer ideas through Z-Community, an online forum that will act as a platform for fans to talk and generate ideas. Yee says ZTE will release the resulting phone at next year’s CES conference.

“Z-Community will bring people together to contribute their ideas or vote on what matters to them,” according to Yee. “We will build the device that our users want,” he adds.

Thinking outside the screen

Yee’s first suggestion for the device is a bendable screen that can be rolled up for storage and laid flat when in use. ZTE calls it the “flex screen”, and wants to know how consumers feel about the idea.

In the past ZTE has used crowdsourcing and consumer feedback to fine-tune other products, including its Axon Passport 2.0. The company’s flagship smartphone, Axon, was designed based on feedback from more than 6,000 American consumers.

Increasing brand awareness

The Z-Community project is part of ZTE’s effort to increase brand awareness among its US consumers. Although it is the fourth largest smartphone supplier in the US, the company has low consumer brand awareness. ZTE announced in October that it has already increased brand awareness from 1% in 2013 to 34% in 2015.

Z-Community members can join the forum at to participate and offer ideas about how to develop the concept.

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