In September, Nextbit really surprised everyone by announcing that, yes, a CDMA model of the Robin would be made for use on Verizon and Sprint’s networks. The company, despite only just coming onto the scene as a small player in the mobile industry, believed it could serve a segment often overlooked because of their carriers’ inferior technology. While the Robin began shipping to Kickstarter backers on February 16, problems were ahead for the CDMA model. Nextbit was forced to delay the CDMA model of the Robin because of “a number” of uncontrollable factors. And now there’s even worse news than a delay.
Nextbit CEO Tim Moss announced today Verizon and Sprint customers will not get to enjoy the Robin for themselves. The phone’s CDMA model has been canceled.
The decision to cancel the CDMA model of the Robin came when Nextbit realized it would take millions of dollars over months ahead to modify the GSM model appropriately. For a small company that relied heavily on $1,362,343 pledged through Kickstarter, fronting millions of additional dollars is extremely tough. And Nextbit is being transparent saying it just couldn’t make this special model happen.
Allow Moss to explain:
As you can imagine, we were in a rush. The Kickstarter campaign is only 30 days long, and it wasn’t until the second week of the campaign that we realized the demand and started the investigation. Because of this, we had to go with the best information we could get before the campaign was over, and over time it turned out that this information was not accurate. What people at the carriers, in good faith given our need for quick answers, thought would take “weeks” has turned into “months”. What they thought would cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars” has turned into “millions”. And we’re still not there. The goal posts are still being moved, and at this point, we think it is better to cancel this version rather than continue to try and make progress with no clear answers to offer regarding when we would actually be able to ship.
We were not sufficiently doubtful of what we were told given everything we already knew from our experience at previous companies. We were too optimistic, too bullish, and as a result we have to deal with our biggest fear, disappointing you, our supporters. This is bad for you, and this is bad for us. The best we can do is send you this explanation with our sincerest apologies, and try to make sure you don’t suffer any financial loss in addition to the disappointment of not receiving a CDMA Robin.
Nextbit has two remedies for people affected and disappointed by the news:
- Refund/Cancellation. We are giving every CDMA backer a full and complete refund within the next 48 hours. For Kickstarter backers, this includes your entire pledge as well as any extra you were charged for accessories, shipping, etc. For pre-orders, we have not charged you and will not do so.
- A 25% discount code for each CDMA backer. Each of you will receive a code for a 25% discount on one order from our online store. If you cannot use this yourself, feel free to pass it on to a friend or family member who is on a GSM network and might like a Robin.
Like I said when the Robin was delayed in January, Nextbit shouldn’t be subject to harsh criticism over the cancellation. The company didn’t even plan to release a CDMA model, and the only reason that one was considered and worked on was because enough consumers expressed interest. Should Nextbit have known its limitations? Sure. But the company was ambitious and now its refunding money those who were hoping to take a Robin to Verizon or Sprint.