It's been over a year now since I started this project. In the meantime Kickstarter just completely blew up. When I launched my project back in April 2011 there were a mere handful of projects on all of Kickstarter that had raised over $100k which back then was already amazing. Fast forward to June 2012 and we now have over 160 projects that raised more than $100k. On top of that the "funding goal bar" has been pushed much higher, with 9 projects raising more than $1 Million and then "the one" project that raised over $10 Million. This really testifies to the power of crowdfunding! Some people’s dreams surely came true! Now, let's get back to what's important for the Juicies project.
State of Production
All the issues and minor changes that I had mentioned in the last update have been taken care of. The manufacturer is sending me another (hopefully FINAL) set of T1 samples, one for every color. These should arrive next week. Once I have signed off on those, we can go into mass production right away.
Apparently, it is a difficult process to make small batches of custom color samples since the factory has to first mix the raw colors and plastic. Then, after making just a few housings, they have to clean out the entire injection machines and the molds so that they are ready for the next color run. This takes time away from using the machines for other tasks. Most manufacturers don't like doing this for such small projects as ours here. That being said, once in mass production, the actual manufacturing of all our cables (including assembly and packaging) should take about 2-3 weeks.
Below you can see some pictures of the recycled contact ABS plastic housings for purple, pink, blue, green and orange. The loose housings on the right are the new ones. The colors pop much more and also match the cables better. It’s hard to tell on the pictures, but there is a big difference when you hold them next to each other side by side. The older ones (from the first run) look a little washed out and have no luster. The colors of the new ones (on the right) look richer and much brighter. Have a look.
This is the one thing that has been our biggest holdup for the last months. No manufacturer - other than Apple - currently has shielding inside their Dock Connectors. This is why there are no “off the shelf” parts and why there is no simple way to do it. Our manufacturer had to go by our drawings and custom make a few of these units by hand. Right now they are still saying that it is not possible to go into mass production with this type of shielding as it takes a long time to custom make each one and the failure rate could be higher due to this fact. At this point I decided to go without the 2nd layer of inner shielding altogether. Please see the attached image for details.
I also wanted to give you a quick update on the packaging. We have decided to use a 100% recycled Kraft material with a gray color instead of the regular brown bag look. Both materials are made in the same way and cost the same. However, I do feel that the new grayish look goes much better with the colors. They just pop much more this way. We printed a few samples for each variation and came to the conclusion that especially on the lighter colors (like yellow and orange) the gray Kraft went much better than the brown one. Have a look here.
iPhone 5 & the new Dock Connector
Although I do not work in Cupertino, CA and I do not have an iPhone 5 for testing purposes, I would like to address a few matters regarding the new upcoming iPhone. Whether it will or will not have a new Dock Connector is only speculation at this point. That being said, I watched all related news very closely. Patently Apple released a post back in April 2011 that shows the layout and design for a new Dock Connector that is compatible with USB 3.0 and DisplayPort (aka now ThunderBolt). A report hinting at this type of new Dock Connector had already been released as early as April 2010. Now that the new MacBook Pro was announced at WWDC last week, it is clear that the new MacBooks and iMacs will ALL come with USB 3.0 ports and ThunderBolt. All this information together with the leaked images of the iPhone 5 (fake or not) and the potential iPad Nano (smaller iPad) seem to indicate that Apple will indeed use a new Dock Connector for future devices. The new Dock Connector will be a little bit smaller than the current one and have rounded edges, however, it will still be a 30 pin connector (not micro USB) as the 30 individual pins bring a lot of advantages. Also this new small 30 pin dock connector will be compatible with both USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt. It will let you transfer full HD movies or 3D videos very quickly from your computer to your iPhone & iPad. With quickly I mean literally 10x as fast. USB 2.0 caps out at 480 Mbps, while USB 3.0 goes up to 4.8 Gbps. Thunderbolt can go all the way up to 10 Gbps! It will also allow for FAST charging as USB 3.0 can carry 900 mA (vs. the normal 500 mA for USB 2.0).
(Picture source: Patently Apple)
Although this is all great stuff for the coming future, we should focus on finishing the first product for now. At the moment, there are over 400 million active devices that connect to the App Store. Unless I am totally mistaken, all of those charge and sync via the current Dock Connector model. And this number does not include all older iPods, the current iPod Nano and the iPod Classic.
Of course I will keep you updated about any developments in the manufacturing process as they arrive. As the mass production date gets nearer, it is time to think about retail sales, website, distributors and so on. In my next update, I will tell you more about the upcoming Juicies online store, mass production and changing your shipping address.
As always, Aloha from Honolulu. And keep it up with the positive comments, I find them very encouraging.