Indiegogo suspends campaign for “frank.” phone after Terms of Use violation

Earlier this month, two entrepreneurs from Ottawa, Canada launched a crowdfunding campaign for the “frank.” phone. The main premise was that smartphone are too expensive, and there needs to be a phone priced competitively that does everything you need it to. The project had a very edgy tone, using phrases like “It’s just another fucking phone but it’ll only cost you $180.” and “It’s about time to disrupt the shit out of the North American smartphone industry.”

Unfortunately for the Frank team (and anyone who wanted the phone), Indiegogo has now suspended the project’s crowdfunding campaign and automatically refunded all contributions. The page now has this message at the top:

This campaign has been closed by Trust and Safety due to a violation of our Terms of Use. The campaign will no longer be accepting contributions, and the Campaign Owners no longer have access to the campaign.

If you read our previous post about the Frank phone, you’ll know that it was based on an existing OEM design sold on Alibaba. The message doesn’t state what part of Indiegogo’s Terms of Use the project violates, but leaving out any mention of using an existing reference design may have been the problem. The project’s page might lead you to believe it was entirely developed in-house, with images of whiteboards and sketches of the phone’s design. The project’s About page even stated, “After many design variations, models, prototypes, and a few fights with the whiteboard, he [one of the entrepreneurs] was able to strike a good balance between build quality and design quality.”

The team behind Frank. phone responded to our initial post by saying the development process was more complicated than simply picking an existing device. “We’re working with the mould, making customization and improvements, such as the upgrade to the front camera and the upgrade to Android 7.0, and introducing it to the North American market,” the team said in their response. But seemingly no changes were made to the crowdfunding page or project site.

The campaign was unlikely to reach its goal regardless. While the funding meter on Indiegogo has been reset to $0, the Frank Twitter account stated it was at 23% on September 8. The first few days are crucial to any funding campaign, as news coverage often doesn’t extend pass that timeframe. Despite plenty of positive press in the first few days, it never reached the acceleration required to reach its $250,000 fixed goal.

We’ve reached out to the Frank phone project for comment, and we will update this post if/when they respond.

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