Red Hydrogen Bites the Dust

The thing never took off. Surprising flop considering his other successes and great eye for product design.


Not sure how many Oakley wearing teens are dropping $1500 on a substandard phone.


I always found Red products kinda ugly, but the technology is (supposedly) incredible.

The phone isn’t a bad idea. I think Soderbergh and other directors have shot with phones, so it makes sense. It might have been better to do a $5k-10k phone for film makers. Unfortunately phone functions seem limited to what the suppliers have developed, not the other way around. Hence, Samsung/Apple/etc. all seem to have about the same specs each release. To try to develop the technology in house as an integrated never seems to fly.

Hmm, I never knew this was a thing. Jumping from cameras to phones is kind of a big leap.

They never delivered on the original promise which was a phone to which you could attach additional modules, most importantly a camera module. That never saw the light of day. I could have seen a market for that. For some reason they got stuck on 3D content and putting an expensive holographic screen which no one asked for.

Also Jim Jannard retired from the company. From the outside this looks like a good thing. He’s been known for making outlandish statements and announcing and retracting product/feature launch. It feels like the direction of the company was coming from a weathercock. Though he did bring the initial energy to the company which was game changing for digital cinema.

ah, I remember that now.

Why is this a thing now? Maybe it always had but founders/CEOs didn’t have twitter as a platform to spout? The Steve Jobs signature “Reality Distortion Field” might work in small groups in real life, but when someone puts it out as a tweet or a press release it can seem a bit self deluding. It also seems like all that effort distorting reality can lead to some bad health situations.

Motorola tried the modular thing with the Hasselbad module:

Don’t think it ever caught on, but I was actually considering it when I was in the market for a new phone back then.

The road to hell is paved with gadgety consumer electronics ‘ecosystems’.
Maybe not all the way to hell, just to Brentwood CA.
See: Handspring


If you were to ask people in my 2002 graduating class which company would be bigger in 2019, Palm or Apple, I think the answers would have been 50/50.

Hmm yeah I’ve also always struggled with modular systems - they always turn out too much of a compromise.
Also this thing completely lacks class, way too much of a nerd-factor. Way overdone on the details without much of coherence between them which makes the device look cheap again. But the idea of indentations and grip grooves are a nice touch.

When I was growing up GM and IBM were some of the biggest corporations in the world. Rim Blackberry used to be a giant. Google was founded in 1998 and Facebook in 2004… will these companies still be massive in 20 years? You could argue that their lock on our data might make them more immune to the consumer marketplace storms that rocked companies like Palm and Blackberry, but, point being, never take a company’s current size (big or small) for granted. A lot can change fast. In the case of Red here, the founder has a health issue and leaves and this initiative totally dies.

Ya, but everyone knew Nokia was where it was at!


I have a hard time seeing modular phones working in the consumer market. Red could have marketed it as a camera system that also happens to be a powerful smartphone. This was part of the marketing material at some point:

None of the major camera manufacturers have really bridged the gap with mobile and their camera systems. If you want to post to social media you need to: shoot on the camera, use some finicky app to transfers the pictures to your phone and finally edit and upload. Also, developments in computational photography has been pushing the tiny sensors in phones right up against the dedicated cameras. Right now, there’s no easy way to use the most advanced processing algorithms on the most advanced cameras.

I really think their idea could have worked if they were more focused on that vision.

It would be interesting to just ditch the idea of a phone altogether and just make it more of an iPod touch/camera. IE, great camera, big touch screen, all your social apps, and WiFi. WiFi connect to a network or make your actual smartphone a hotspot and you are good to post. Once you cross the bridge into hopping on a cellular network the amount of consumer expectations go up as does the amount of listening fees you need to pay all of those early cell phone makers who patented all the tech. Costs and complexity just balloon.

That’s sort of like that fake-but-effective demo the Artefact designers did with the Lytro phone concept at CES.

In defense of the aesthetic: Red’s cameras look incredibly nerdy and over the top.

Samsung did exactly this with the Galaxy Camera a few years back. Samsung Galaxy Camera - Wikipedia

That camera looks more like proper tech gear (modular looking, industrial, purposeful, rugged) than the overly styled Oakley phone…

Yo- if the camera is just a camera with social, where do you draw the line? If you need the phone to tether why not just use the phone camera? It is has only wifi how do you share if you are out? If it has only social, can you text a pic? Does it have all the social apps, FB, IG, TW, WhatsApp, etc?

The days are numbered of cameras for sure when the iPhone and others are just so good… But people have been saying that for 5+ years… I don’t see the use case scenario.


I think I read somewhere that high end camera sales are up actually. There has been a lot of model proliferation in the mirror less category. I was thinking more of a traditionally body and lens mirrorless form factor that would have social integration and tether to your phone for connectivity.

The phone has definitely replaced crappy cameras but it hasn’t overcome the physics of a good lens or sensor size. You can compare the difference between image quality on an iPhone XI photo and a DSLR and it really shows. The depth of field on the iPhone is still fake feeling and if you zoom in the pixels are all blurry.