A little over a month ago, Meizu announced that its portless "concept" phone, the Zero, would be available to actually buy via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. At a price of $1300, it was certainly expensive, but not obscenely so - after all, mass produced devices from Samsung and Apple now easily exceed such a price. And for that $1300, you'd get a low-volume production handset that arguably was the first of its kind - just the sort of thing you'd think would get the attention of enough smartphone enthusiasts to justify what was pretty clearly a marketing campaign first, R&D effort second.

Meizu set itself an eminently reasonably bar for the campaign, too, at $100,000. That may sound like a fair bit of cash, but Meizu would only have had to sell 77 phones in order to meet this goal. It managed just 29. It's unclear how many of those were Meizu employees, other than to say "not enough."

Meizu isn't a particularly well-known brand in western markets, having only expanded to Eastern Europe recently. It was only in 2018 the company had apparently received a renewal of its Google Mobile Services certification, which it lost years ago for building phones with the Android fork Yun OS in China. Given Indiegogo is largely popular in places like North America and Europe, I guess it's not terribly surprising no one wanted to sign up to buy a $1300 phone from a company they knew nothing about, especially one that appeared to just be taking away things people want.

While I do believe portless phones are our inevitable future, we're years, possibly even a decade, from that being truly feasible in a mass market device. Any phone lacking a USB port in 2019 is best called what it is: sheer jackassery. There's no good excuse for ditching the USB port when it remains the ubiquitous channel through which power, audio, and data can be routed (even if USB-C headphones kind of suck). Until wireless charging is so common and so fast as to relegate wired chargers to the dustbin, portless phones belong in the imaginations and sketchbooks of industrial designers, not crowdfunding campaigns.

The CEO of Meizu claims the Zero was only intended to be a marketing stunt, which may well be true, but it doesn't make this incident any less embarrassing for the company.