We were all excited when the company that excels with camera was going to make a smartphone. It was expected to come with the highest specs and have the best camera around. Unfortunately it did not come close to being either of these. On the RED forum today RED founder and CEO Jim Jannard has explained what went wrong with the Hydrogen One and announced the Hydrogen Two.
Mr Jannard first explained that building a phone in today’s market is not as easy as it seems and rather than build it in their Orange County factories where their cameras are built they chose the Chinese route. They hired a Chinese ODM (original design manufacturer) to “prepare the Hydrogen One for manufacture at Foxconn” and while they were happy with the performance of Foxconn they were left less impressed with the ODM.
The Chinese ODM is being blamed for the poor performance of the phone in all areas, camera and processing power and for them getting their Chinese ODM to “finish the committed features and fix known issues on the Hydrogen One” has proven challenging — “impossible actually”.
Mr Jannard then announced that they have begun work on the Hydrogen Two at a new ODM — a new ODM which he says is “more capable of building and supporting the product we (and our customers) demand”. As for the camera module they have decided to bring its development back in-house, as you would have expected in the first place given they are a camera company first and foremost. The new camera module, named Komodo, will apparently vastly exceed the originally planned module — which was never developers by the original ODM. This new camera module will be installed in the Hydrogen One and Two — yes it appears the Hydrogen One will continue to be manufactured but it is unclear for how long.
A complimentary camera for cinema grade images at the highest level at lower pricing.
RED have a lot of loyal followers who supported their first smartphone and who were let down in a big way and to compensate for their sufferings “every HYDROGEN One owner will get significant preferential treatment for the HYDROGEN Two and/or new Cinema Camera model, both in delivery allocations and pricing.”
Mr Tannard signs off saying that the Hydrogen phone is still the most exciting product he’s ever worked on and they remain committed to “providing the highest quality image capture devices to more people than ever before.”
It will be interesting to see how the second generation performs because it would want to be a lot better than the first if it is to be taken seriously in the smartphone market. If they can produce the great images we expect from a RED product there is no doubt they’ll have a hit on their hands but they’ll need to improve drastically and be a lot sharper on pricing. It seems unlikely they’ll be able to do both but we can always hold out hope.