In a post on RED’s message board, founder Jim Jannard reasserted the company’s commitment to the disappointing Hydrogen One handset. It’s a distant memory now, but the pricey niche device was teased and delayed for months, only to be generally run through the ringer in reviews.
The camera module was one of the various complaints about the device, and now RED’s placing the blame firmly at the feet of its ODM partner. In the post, Jannard notes that, while Foxconn has been a solid manufacturer, the design partner essentially blew it:
Our ODM, which was responsible for the mechanical packaging of our design including new technologies along with all software integration with the Qualcomm processor, has significantly under-performed. Getting our ODM in China to finish the committed features and fix known issues on the Hydrogen One has proven to be beyond challenging. Impossible actually. This has been irritating me to death and flooding our reactor.
Given the generally rough reviews for the $1,300 device, a lesser company would have no doubt abandoned the ship. Jannard and RED, however, are using the opportunity to double down. A new camera module (named “Komodo”), he notes, will be coming not only to the Hydrogen One, but a future Hydrogen Two.
“To that end,” he writes, “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.”
Given the time it took for the first gen to launch, it’s probably not worth holding one’s breath for the sequel. That said, the first handset is often the hardest, and creating a phone certainly presented a new paradigm for the high-end camera manufacturer, which is more accustomed to building devices in-house.