Author: Kees Jan Engelen

In these days of globalization and auction sites it would seem a smart idea to first ask ten design firms to bid on designing your device, and then take that design and ask ten factories to bid on manufacturing the electronics, and ten mold makers to bid on the molds for the housing. But alas, in reality this is not nearly as easy as it sounds. Be careful with "splittist" thinking Splitting up a project like this can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you are not experienced in managing transnational design projects. The risk of finger pointing is very high: the French designer will say the mold maker screwed up his wonderful concept, the Chinese mold maker will say that the 3D files he got were impossible to manufacture, so he had no option but to help the project along by quickly (i.e. without asking) implementing some "improvements," the list goes on...

Bob O’Donnell points out in an article that the time that Apple was able to surprise the world with real innovations may well be behind us.They were very late with their Apple Watch, I guess they postponed the introduction a couple of times because it wasn’t ground breaking enough to meet the enormous expectations, and when they finally did launch it it indeed failed to impress.Their recent products are competent evolutions, but nothing revolutionary, I feel the Iphone 6 looks decidedly boring, should I say Samsung-like?It seems they are running out of ideas, last weekend all they had to announce was, hold your breath…:a new version of the iPad Pro tablet new wristbands for the Apple Watch a budget iPhone SE, which seems an almost desperate move to get iPhone sales from slowing down even further Their most interesting product was a robot specifically designed to destruct iPhones!Perhaps it is the need to support 1 billion active devices which is becoming a burden rather than a boon....

As Ben Joffe shows in his presentation below, prices of quite a number of consumer products have come down very rapidly. The XiaoMi Yi camera for example equals or bests the GoPro Hero on virtually all specs, while selling for just $65. Mind that the prices listed in the graph are China retail prices, in the US it sells on Amazon for $97. Another important aspect is the increasing speed at which products come out. As Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics, is quoted: “Before you had six years, now you have six months“. Exciting and scary at the same time, China’s supply chain is clearly still unparalleled, especially for anything custom: housings, LCD displays, batteries, PCB’s, packaging… The first samples and production batches of custom parts often have issues. To avoid being crippled by shipping costs and delays, final assembly needs to be done close to the factories making the components. And when you’re having most of the parts made and assembled in China, nothing makes more sense than having the design done there as well. The trick of course is to harness the power of this supply chain beast to reap the benefits while avoiding IP infringements and...

In 2014 Relayr initially raised a modest 111K in crowdfunding for it’s beginner friendly IoT starter kit, but now got funded by venerated VC Kleiner Perkins. Congrats to the team and also to Startupbootcamp! The kit allows beginners to experiment with Beacons and connected sensors. I feel it’s rather overpriced at Euro 470, better buy it at Seeed, but they must be doing something very right in their support services....

After raising $3.4 M on KickStarter Feb 2014 they now raised another $22 million. This project is so ambitious that I was wondering whether they could pull it off, but they did the impossible and the unit is working well. Now they are working hard to overcome manufacturing yield issues, there is a big difference between getting 1 unit working, and 10,000 units not failing.  http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2015/11/features/bragi-in-ear-assistant...

IoT needs a dedicated network, I strongly feel LoRa will be it:1/100 the power consumption of BLE, i.e. lasting up to 10 years Range: 2 km urban to 15 km rural Bi-directional data traffic Low cost nodes Serious Telco support announced, especially in EuropeMore details in this article by Chris Downey: http://bit.ly/1fqOhGbAnd it’s starting to happen this week:Wienke Giezeman wrote:I am really happy to announce The Things Network is going to launch Friday August 21st in Amsterdam:http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/08/19/the-things-network-wants-to-make-every-city-smart-starting-with-amsterdam/We managed to crowdsource an entire LoraWAN internet of things data network in Amsterdam in 6 weeks. And the world is next.More information can be found on our website: http://www.thethingsnetwork.orgOn behalf of The Things Network community I invite you to come to the opening at Rockstart in Amsterdam this Friday at 13:00. http://www.meetup.com/sensemakersams/events/224471072/The entire story can be found here: http://thethingsnetwork.pr.co/108437-the-things-network-launches-world-s-first-crowdfunded-internet-of-things-data-network-in-amsterdam-and-the-world-is-nextFeel free to tweet, post, shout, forward this announcement!...

Wonderful concept, real pity they ran into problems making it work for electronic products. Seems they were pushing stuff out a little too fast, leading to severe quality problems. It would be a real waste if the implementation side could not be saved and they would deflate into just being a discussion platform.Despite selling 4 million products apparently the sales side also had problems, for a product to succeed you need to spend on marketing. But not even P&G can afford to launch 3 marketing campaigns per week. They were already burning $5.8M per month on just engineering, mold making and inventory building, adding 12 new marketing campaigns of say 1$ M each would have meant a significantly higher burn rateI think they were going for an Amazon like land grab of the invention community, trying to catch all inventors and keep them happy showing blistering progress, but the execution at the end of the pipeline suffered. Getting the last manufacturing issues worked out often takes longer than you had hoped and can be frustrating, many Kickstarter campaign go silent in this period, but those problems do need to be solved, and then indeed the product does need to be...

Q1 of 2015 saw a record 128 electronic projects raise at least $100K each on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Reaching $100K is often considered a successful campaign, and many think that the founders can take this money to a factory and just get the stuff made. The 4 out of 5 hardware campaigns that don’t manage to ship in time show that most teams still underestimate the DFM (Design For Manufacturing) process. A number of factors complicate things: Arduino is too expensive Companies like Arduino, Sparkfun and SeeedStudio have developed great electronic modules which are easy to connect and program; making it easy for a programmer and a bizdev guy to quickly throw a prototype together and put it on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. For a prototype pricing of these modules is not bad, but for mass production it will not give you a price level the market can accept. Competitive components take time There are much more affordable Bluetooth and GPRS modules available, especially in China, but first you need to order samples, which means interacting with a multitude of vendors, and not all of them are fluent in English. Then you test the alternatives, and often will find that the ones with the best price/performance...

If your company needs a new electronic product made then the fastest and lowest cost way to get this done would seem to find an ODM factory in China already making very similar products. They have the leanest design and cost structure, the experience, and the large volume which allows for the lowest cost. On top of that the fee they charge to customize the product to your specifications is often only symbolic.It all sounds tempting, but having developed products with factories in China and Taiwan for 20 years I’d like to share a few pointers: 1. Be aware you have no ownership The changes you are requesting will be modifications to the design which is the Intellectual Property (IP) of the factory. You may be working with the factory for a year, and pay them quite a bit of money in the process, but if in the end you decide to part ways you will not be able to take the design elsewhere, so you will need to start from scratch. One more reason to pick your partner very carefully. 2. Make sure you have a firm spec It’s best to have your specifications completely clear and frozen before the start of the...

This is another question we get rather frequently. The short answer? It depends.Some clients require the full range of our services, while others may have already had some of these done in their own country, like for instance the industrial design work. Regardless of what stage you’re project is at, one thing is certain: you can expect significant savings having your device not only manufactured in China or Taiwan, but also developed here.Costs will of course heavily depend on the complexity and size of the product. Some products may incur $120,000 of Non-Recurring Expenses (NRE), which includes engineering, mold making (for the housing of the device), prototyping, and certifications. More complex products with a lot of programming can run in excess of $500,000. And, if you haven’t already heard, volume is king in China, and few factories in China are willing to take orders below 5,000 pieces. At Titoma we realize that especially on shorter run products the NRE investment weighs heaviest, so we also help our clients do lower quantity projects, as long as the first order is worth at least US$150,000.But, despite the savings of having development and manufacturing done in Asia, the capital needed to develop a...

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