If you want to be involved – intimately involved with the manufacturing process behind a product you purchase then I suggest you immediately jump onto Kickstarter and start backing projects. The high-flying site has made lots of news in a short amount of time. In March of last year they received $10 million in funding. In its third year the site raised almost $120 million in funding – almost three times as much as total revenue from the prior years combined.
Perhaps the company’s highest-profile project was Arianna Huffington looking to use the site to raise $1 billion to buy back the Huffington Post from AOL.
In December of last year I came to the conclusion that the TouchFire Keyboard – a silicone keyboard project on the site may be the perfect companion for those of us using the iPad 2 as a data entry device.
So with my readers in mind I ordered it and waited. And waited. And waited. There have been updates but the detailed emails seemed more like excuses than actual information I could use to determine when this thing was going to ship. And then finally today I received an email from “Steve & Brad” telling me – you know what – let me share how they gave me the news:
The Good News: We signed off on Touchfire going into volume production; hooray! Our factory will start making Touchfires next week.
The Bad News: We had to order 80,000 new magnets, and it will be about 4 weeks before they get here.
More Good News: By the time the magnets arrive, the factory will have made a lot of Touchfires!
Even More Good News: We were able to come up with a single version of Touchfire that works for all generations of iPads. In fact, we were forced to….
So the keyboard should now ship by the end of June – about a six month process or so from the time of ordering.
There are a few things I really like about these emails however. They are enthusiastic. You feel like it is your own in-house R&D team communicating with you – you can sense their excitement which naturally makes you excited as well. And these guys, Steve & Brad (pictured) are really likeable based on their emails – you just get the feeling you could spend hours with them discussing the relative merits of Picard Vs. Kirk.
But getting back to the story at hand – it appears the seemingly random magnet polarization of the “iPad 3” speaker which caused some iPad 2 cases not to work with the New iPad has also presented a challenge for this group. Their solution was to change the size and polarity of the magnets – 80,000 have been ordered and will be delivered in four weeks.
So in short, my first Kickstarter experience has been smooth but slow – very slow. If you are patient and interested in learning how products are made and want to learn about real-world manufacturing challenges, you likely want to order something from them soon.