Red Founder Kills the Company's Holographic Phone Project, Announces Retirement

Photo: Sam Rutherford (Gizmodo)

The Red Hydrogen One was a phone from another dimension. It was big, super heavy, and was billed the world’s first holographic phone. Except it never quite delivered, and now, alongside a retirement announcement, Red Founder Jim Jannard is canceling Red’s Hydrogen project altogether.

In a post on Red’s Hydrogen forums, Jannard explained that after turning 70 and being hit with “a few health issues,” he felt it was time for him to retire. In a rather brief statement, Jannard thanked previous coworkers and employees, while announcing that Red’s Digital Cinema team will left in the hands of Red president Jarred Land, Red executive vice president Tommy Rios, and Red president of marketing and creative Jamin Jannard.

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As for the Hydrogen One itself, Jannard says the phone will continue to receive support, though it’s unclear if that means the phone will just get regular security patches or more substantial updates like new versions of Android. As for Red’s second Hydrogen phone, which was teased in a forum post Jannard made earlier this summer, the development of that device has almost certainly been canceled.

This is a bit disappointing, because even though $1,300 Hydrogen One (which recently saw a price drop down to just $650) was unusually expensive at launch and never really lived up to its potential, making phones is hard, and even companies with an extensive pedigree like Essential have stumbled out of the gate.

And while the Hydrogen One’s “holographic” display actually looked more like the screen you get on a Nintendo 3DS instead of something out of Star Wars, it did add an interesting effect to both photos and properly formatted movies

However, it seems that not all is lost as Jannard also mentioned that Red’s Komodo 6K camera—which will supposedly have some sort of integration with the Hydrogen One—is “about to be launched.” While there’s no specific timetable on when the Komodo is supposed to arrive, it’ll be interesting to see if it can breathe any life back into the Red’s now largely abandoned phone.

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About the author

Sam Rutherford

Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.