China's Meizu has disowned its crowdfunded project to create a button-less and port-less smartphone as a daft publicity stunt.
The "Meizu zero" was intended to create "the first holeless and seamless smartphone", according to its Indiegogo page, which sought $100,000 funding in January.
The zero would have had no USB port, no physical buttons, and an embedded eSIM. Backers throwing $1,200 at the phone giant would have received an engineering prototype, the company promised. Or for $2,999, an "Exclusive Pioneering Unit" with 12 months' warranty.
The appeal has now been closed, falling well short of its modest goal.
Dismissing the project on his company's public blog, Meizu founder and CEO Jack Wong wrote: "This crowdfunding project was just the marketing team messing about. The holeless phone is just a development project from the R&D department, we never intended to mass-produce this project."
Steve Jobs famously sought to create a seamless consumer product with few (or concealed) ports and slots. But he had a purpose in doing so: computers in the mid-1970s, or even in 1984 when the Apple Mac launched, were still perceived by the public as room-sized data-processing machines. His goal was turn the computer into a consumer product, and it needed to look like an appliance.
"[Jobs] decreed that the Macintosh would remain perpetually bereft of slots, enclosed in a tightly sealed case, with only the limited expandability of the two serial ports," recalled early Apple staffer Andy Hertzfeld. He repeated the trick with the NeXT computer, and the Apple G4 Cube. Neither had room for internal expansion, and what ports were featured were hard to access.
But the older Jobs was much more pragmatic when it came to the iPhone. To this day it features a ring/silence switch – its official name – that almost all other manufacturers consider superfluous (except OnePlus).
While a hole-less, port-less, slot-less phone is certainly feasible in 2019, it's not something many people want – as the tepid response to Meizu's Indiegogo stunt confirms.