The smartphone market is increasingly mature. As a result, for manufacturers, it is increasingly difficult to differentiate their product, but it is also more and more important in order to get noticed.
The smart folks over at NextBit are proposing a cloud-first smartphone, which, on the face of it, addresses an issue many smartphone users run into: limited storage. However, I think the product will fail even before it has launched.
The storage problem is particularly prevalent in the low-end of the market, where manufacturers skimp on included storage. However, the price of the Robin will be 400 USD (non-kickstarter price). This is a price point well into the upper end of the mid-range smartphone segment. At that price point, phones come with a reasonable amount of build-in storage (16Gb and above) and often with external SD card support. At that point, storage is a lot less of an issue, and the Robin has lost an important part of its value proposition.
Secondly, current cloud and streaming services are already helping users deal, quite effectively, with limited storage space. Photos can take up a lot of space on your device, but services like Dropbox, Google Photos and Flickr allow you to upload automatically all photos you take and review your whole photo library, even it the photos are not on your device and they are basically free. On the other hand, streaming services like Spotify and Netflix offer you audio and video via streaming.
I think the design and specs of the Robin are appealing, but with a non-standard route-to-market strategy and an unconvincing value proposition, I just don’t see how it can be a success.