Kickstarter projects are exciting, but be prepared to wait months for a product

Kickstarter projects are exciting, but be prepared to wait months for a product

Summary: Kickstarter offers a mechanism for project creators to gain funding, but before you jump on in and pledge real money for project make sure you understand you likely won't see a product for months after funding closes.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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We have seen some exciting projects appear on Kickstarter and I currently have backed three projects, pledging a total of $345. Unfortunately, none of the projects I have backed have yet shipped and one is no longer of any use to me, but I am still out the $150 for this one accessory. The long lead time between pledging, funding, and shipping is something you should be aware of before supporting a project on Kickstarter. Several of the projects have gained media attention and hype, but I just wanted to recommend you use a bit of caution before jumping on a project that seems like something you could use right now since it is likely you won't see an actual product for many months.

TouchFire iPad keyboard

I use my iPad as a laptop replacement in many situation so having a convenient keyboard that takes up very little space is a very attractive option. I had the chance to meet one of the TouchFire creators and pledged $80 after trying one out. The TouchFire keyboard was funded on 13 December 2011 and the latest update on 30 April described one final issue with the magnets not fitting into the holders. The original planned delivery date was the second week in February and now we are looking at maybe June.

Thankfully, Apple did not change much in the design of the iPad 3 so the TouchFire will still work with it and I will be able to use the TouchFire with my new iPad. I just hope that the TouchFire arrives so I can get some use out of it before the iPad 4.

Elevation Dock for the iPhone

I am a big fan of the color orange and thus pledged $150 for an orange Elevation Dock. This project was fully funded on 11 February, but I can't find what the original planned shipping date was. The latest update, 27 April, stated they hoped to start shipping 30 days beyond their previous planned date of April 28th, but here were are in mid-May with no status to confirm that they are shipping in the next couple weeks.

After getting tired of the 1 Mbps download on Verizon's 3G, I just traded my iPhone 4S for a Verizon Galaxy Nexus. Thus, I may have a limited edition orange Elevation Dock available for sale. With the iPhone 5 rumored to have a larger display with a likely release this fall, the Elevation Dock may be an accessory delivered to support only the older iPhone models.

Pebble E-Paper watch

Joel discussed the Pebble E-Paper watch a couple weeks ago and I went ahead and pledged $115 for a black one. This project already has raised over $10 million and will be fully funded this Friday. They have been vague about posting any kind of availability date, but speculation is that they will ship sometime before the end of 2012.

I fully understand there are challenges with design and manufacturing and as long as you go into pledging funds for a project with this understanding then you may not be concerned about delivery estimates. However, the mobile space moves fast and as an enthusiast I change my device lineup too often to continue backing projects related to accessories for mobile devices and am trying to not get caught up in the hype again.

Topic: Hardware

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4 comments
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  • I'm kicking myself

    For not getting in on the pebble watch kickstarter before all the products sold. When you get ready to sell the Elevation Dock let me know as I still use my iPhone 4.
    NonFanboy
  • You're not buying a product

    You're funding a startup and getting a product as your payout. As with all startup investments, they may fall through.
    RationalGuy
  • I Get It...

    I get it... I'm funding a startup. And with any startup, problems are likely to occur causing delays in the production, and ultimately, the shipping of the product. I backed the Pen Type-A. I'm a stationery nut. I jumped on this pen without hesitation. It was fully funded on August 15, 2011. As of right now, there are still over 1500 pens that have to be shipped before mine will be (they created some little app that lets you see how many pens are left before yours ships). I've been waiting almost a year now since I pledged my money. It was my first Kickstarter project and was definitely not my last (I've since backed a few more and will continue to do so).

    Miller is right-on here. Don't buy something expecting it to ship on time. I probably won't ever fund a project that is an accessory for a current technology product because they change so rapidly. The iPad is updated annually, the iPhone usually gets a new body style every 18-24 months. If I paid $150 for an iPhone dock and it took 15 months to arrive, I'd get about 3-6 months of use out of it before it was time to get a new phone. That's a lot of money to spend on an accessory that you only get to use for a few weeks.

    Kickstarter is great and is a great way for people to get their ideas funded. Not everyone has a million dollars in the bank to start manufacturing. Just be wary of time-sensitive products as time may not be your friend when backing a new product.

    Also, @rationalguy, I think that you're right, to an extent. I'm curious, though, as I've never read the small print. What if something does fall through? Do the backers get a refund?
    heymatthew
  • Watch out! KickStarter offerings could be a scam.

    My experience is similar to Matthew Miller's except one of MY purchases is already shipping long ago yet I'm still waiting for my item to arrive.
    I've written several times but received no reply.
    Another item I backed merely sent me a cancellation email, in a rather nasty way I might add.

    I think maybe they just folded and took the money and ran; otherwise they'd have some response for me.
    Watch out! "FindMyCarSmarter" for iPhone 4S is non-responsive, and "CloudFTP" merely cancelled my order and sent a nasty reply saying they cancelled because they didn't have my address (WRONG! I showed them email indicating that they DID have my address.)
    I will never back another project.
    bigmutt