YotaPhone 2 likely not coming to US after all

31 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

The Hotly-Anticipated US Version of the Yotaphone 2 Is Canceled.

Well, this is sad: despite a successful Indiegogo campaign which saw the company pass its funding goal in mere hours, Yota Devices just announced that the “two fronts” YotaPhone 2 with its secondary always-on ePaper display won’t be coming to North American shores. The Verge first reported on this news. “It’s with a very heavy heart that I have to share the news that we are cancelling our launch of YotaPhone 2 in North America,” the company said in an email to backers. “This has been a difficult decision for us as a company, and we’d like to offer our sincerest apologies to the many people who have supported us.” Why was the launch cancelled, you ask? Backers can choose to receive the international version of the phone, though it lacks support for LTE in the US and will only get HSPA+ service on T-Mobile and AT&T. Alternatively, they can request a refund, but the exact logistics of how the refund will be delivered to them are still being worked out, according to the email.

Yota Devices is giving backers two options as to how to move forward: either take an international YotaPhone 2 (in the color black, only) that will only work on GSM carriers (so, AT&T and T-Mobile) and only on 3G/HSPA+ bands, or take a full refund that will be sent directly from the company. It’s a shame that another interesting idea with lots of public support has succumb to the poor planning of ambitious, and inexperienced manufacturers.

For those who want the advantages of the always-on rear eInk display with its noted five days of life on a single charge – reading books, quick access to frequented information, etc – the compromise of using HSPA+ might be worth it (it’s not that slow). The cancellation is reportedly due to unforseen delays in production and distribution that are “insurmountable.” Seems like the typical rookie mistake that plagues crowdfunding campaigns. Yota now says that it is partnering with a new manufacturer that can “support the scalability we need in order to quickly bring YotaPhone to various regions around the world, including North America.” But it seems that it will only be ramping up production with that partner for its next generation device, which has yet to be announced. The company announced today that it would be canceling its plans to launch the phone due to “unforeseen delays” with its manufacturer which would mean that the handset would not make it into users before other regions were already getting newer, better, and less expensive YotaPhones.

The YotaPhone concept is an interesting and appealing one: it has a low-power E Ink display on its back that can be used to display all kinds of information without affecting battery life nearly as much as the standard color LCD on the front side of the device. Yota Devices says they were from the outset of the Indiegogo campaign, “confident our supplier would be able to follow through with their commitment” to product the device quickly enough to not create a conflict with the company’s 2016 product roadmap. The newest YotaPhone, coming in 2016, will include “the latest specs and technologies, but also at a lower cost, to allow us to offer better value to our customers.”

But though it may seem like anyone can make a smartphone today, it’s clear that building one at scale and delivering it to customers across the world is no easy task, and Yota unfortunately learned this the hard way. This was a shock to everyone at Yota Devices, and our leadership team, including our CEO, met with the manufacturer last week in a last-ditch effort to find a solution but the logistics were insurmountable and the device would simply arrive too late. In the next week we’ll follow up separately with each of you to confirm your choice and share refund updates or shipping timelines based on your choice.

On a personal note, this news is a shot to the stomach for me as I started with Yota Devices last year with one goal: to put YotaPhone in the hands of customers in North America. In fact, I was such a huge fan of YotaPhone that I personally contacted Vlad, our CEO, to offer to lead these efforts which he was kind enough to grant me. Since then it’s been an amazing experience introducing YotaPhone 2 throughout the country and seeing the genuine excitement around our innovative smartphone from operator, retail, media and development partners. Though, as you can imagine, it’s not an easy life for a startup smartphone company and the aforementioned manufacturing difficulties have been one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced.

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