Want ZTE To Build an Underwater VR Headset? Vote Now.


Chinese electronics giant ZTE, maker of the Axon smartphone, has decided that crowdsourcing isn't just for startups.

Its next product will either be a phone that sticks to the wall with built-in adhesive, an "intelligent" smartphone cover, a motorized glove, a new Axon, or a waterproof virtual reality mask.

You, the consumer, get to help it decide what to make. Voting runs through Oct. 19, and a simple majority determines which gadget wins.

"We believed consumers were capable of driving the R&D process and we hope that others can learn from our example so we can advance the mobile industry collectively," ZTE USA CEO Lixin Cheng said in a statement.

The winning design will get handed over to an exclusive team at ZTE to build, according to ZTE VP Jeff Yee, and it'll come out sometime next year.

"If it's a smartphone, it might be December ... if it's something simple, it might be March," Yee told PCMag last month.

Any of the five choices, with the possible exception of an update to the traditional Axon phone, would be challenging to make and even more challenging to market to consumers. How do you get a self-adhesive phone to be sticky only when its owner wants to stick it on something? Or, how do you convince people they need an underwater VR headset when they're not sold on VR in the first place?

By crowdsourcing its product choices, ZTE gets some easy market research and more than a little goodwill from consumers, who—if predictions of slowing smartphone sales are to be believed—are growing tired of buying the same old slabs of metal and glass.

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