Software Updates & International Delivery Schedule
We've recently made great progress on one of the features most requested by our fantastic Kickstarter backers: direct device access via SMB and DLNA. Below are pictures of movies being accessed directly from a Space Monkey device by a Sony Bluray player, using DLNA. SMB and DLNA support will allow you to not only access and store data from most common operating systems when on the same local network as the device without using the Space Monkey client (including many smart TVs and media center devices), but also will allow you to do things like point popular backup software at Space Monkey.
These features need a little bit more work before release, but we wanted to give you a sneak peek. When ready, your devices will automatically update with this capability. The work we are doing here will also allow us to add support for other local protocols such as AFP, NFS, et. al.
Progress continues on multi-user accounts, shared folders, and free accounts. These features will begin rolling out to users over the next few months.
We've recently deployed enhancements to devices that have resulted in modest improvement in speed of transfer both to and off of the device. But we're not done. Internally, we have some major changes that are already experimentally showing 10x faster transfer rates than the present system, both for large files and batches of small files. When this work is complete, Space Monkey performance will be comparable to network-attached storage devices ("NAS" or "Network Drives") when on the same local network.
Progress on the desktop clients marches forward, with leaps in stability and reliability taking center stage. Performance has also been a focus here. You should expect to continue to see things getting better every week.
International Delivery Has Begun
We have begun shipping outside of the United States, first to Canada and soon Mexico. Other locales will soon follow. For more detail, read on.
International Delivery Timetable
It’s been a fantastic journey since our initial launch on Kickstarter in April of last year. We were thrilled by the excitement that Space Monkey generated and were humbled by the international interest in our product. It’s been very busy here at Space Monkey HQ since then as we have worked tirelessly on a number of important matters that are critical to success.
What Have We Achieved?
Shortly after our Kickstarter campaign ended we manufactured and tested a small batch of devices. We streamlined the supply chain and manufacturing process. We wanted the out-of-box experience for our customers to be a positive one. Changes were made to both hardware and software as needed and we planned for our first major manufacturing run.
Our first major run in September helped us navigate through numerous twists and turns. National holidays in China and a busy shipping period leading up to Christmas and long lead times on key components were just a few challenges we faced. A learning experience for all, but we were able to assemble a strong team of partners. This run was very important. There is a big difference between manufacturing a couple hundred devices and manufacturing a few thousand devices. We took delivery of this first major batch of devices in early November.
The next significant milestone was adding stress to the Space Monkey network. We were satisfied with the general performance of the devices themselves based on the ongoing alpha testing, but we wanted to grow the network size in a controlled manner to ensure a positive experience for our customers as the system scaled.
We released devices in batches to US customers over the next two months. We watched the network grow as devices were coming online every day. It was exciting to see the online count of devices increase as backers plugged in their devices. These initial customers gave us very valuable feedback as they put their devices through very real world use. The engineers put in many long days and nights squashing bugs, improving performance and giving tireless support to new excited users. We fulfilled US orders first so that we could perform quick turnaround on problematic devices should they need to be shipped back to us. We have been pleased with what we have found so far and are confident that once devices are shipped internationally that these devices will perform as expected.
Both FCC and CE testing were started before the end of the Kickstarter campaign, and a portion of the devices in this first manufacturing run were earmarked to be shipped Internationally once CE testing was complete. With the holidays in full swing, getting test time with the certifying bodies was difficult, but our hardware team came through and found us a spot. Testing went very smoothly and our final score was excellent, but we needed to make a change to the PCB to be given the final approval. This change, although a relatively small issue, could not be made on existing devices. The change needed to be done when the PCBs were manufactured. We had a small manufacturing run scheduled at around this time but our manufacturing partners were not able to complete the necessary tooling in time to modify the boards already in production. That unfortunately meant that we needed to push the board change out to our next manufacturing run in February 2014.
Where Are We Now?
Our manufacturing team in China completed the board change and have completed a batch of PCBs that are not only FCC compliant but CE compliant as well. These boards are ready to be assembled into the devices. The remaining components necessary to complete the manufacturing process have been ordered and we expect delivery of these components at the factory within the next three weeks. These units are destined for the United Kingdom and European markets.
When Will We Deliver to Backers in the UK, Europe, and beyond?
The CE compliant devices are in process of manufacture. We expect this run to be completed by the end of March. Our shipping team will then handle the logistics of shipping the containers carrying these devices by ocean freight to our warehouse in London. We expect this process to take at least six weeks before the devices have been received in the warehouse and are ready for shipping to individual customers.
Our roll out in the US taught us the value of having controlled shipping releases. Our shipping team are very good at what they do, but with very high volumes at once, the risk of errors increases and we want our customers to get the device they ordered. We expect to take about four weeks to distribute these devices. That puts us at a target of around mid-June to fulfill United Kingdom and European Kickstarter orders. Other countries outside of Europe should start to see units soon thereafter.
Could We Have Done Anything Differently?
We think the answer to this question is always a resounding “yes.” That is why Space Monkey exists. We looked at the current state of cloud storage with the huge inefficiencies of data center infrastructure, decided things could be done differently, and Space Monkey was born. We're all about learning from past mistakes, including our own.
Over the last twelve months, we have worked hard on realizing the Space Monkey vision. There are many moving parts to a project that fundamentally changes the way the world stores and accesses data. We sought advice from seasoned startup entrepreneurs, we researched and we tried new and different things. We failed many times, but we have learned from each and every failure and have built a product that not only works but is in fact changing the world. As we look back, we recognize key points where we slowed ourselves down. But that learning was critical. We are satisfied that making some mistakes early in the process is less costly than making them late in the process.
What Does the Future Hold for Us?
We believe that what we are doing now is just the tip of the iceberg. Creating a presence around the globe is a mammoth task and the logistics of doing so are not for the faint hearted.
We have a number of potential partners that are excited about what we are doing and have expressed an interest in getting involved. We continue to grow and the next twelve months will be very exciting.
We will continue to update backers on progress and changes as soon as reasonably possible over the next few months. We have not and will not deliberately withhold important information. Backers are always welcome to reach out to us through firstname.lastname@example.org and we will address individual concerns without delay.
Our Kickstarter backers are important to us and we are doing what we can to ensure that we meet our obligations to you. Thank you for believing in what we are doing, and for your patience and continued support.
The Space Monkey Team