Project overview and what’s next
It’s a new year.
We wish you all a happy 2017. For us, it’s a time to reflect on our journey so far.
But before we do that, here’s some other news;
New website - coming soon
For those of you who were not aware about the calamity around losing our domain, we now have a new one.
A long story, short.
Despite completing multiple payments in order to renew the domain, somehow our hosting provider accidentally released our domain onto the open market and it was snapped up by one of our Kickstarter backers. We cannot waste time and resources, so we are moving forward with a new domain.
We are no longer accepting pre-orders until we deliver the FS-X to our Kickstarter Backers and existing pre-order customers. For those of you who pre-ordered via our old webshop, don't worry, we have all of your information saved in our database.
We are focusing on shipment. So, let’s talk about the FS-X.
The FS-X has had countless versions since starting our Kickstarter project in 2014.
The best way to describe this process is to look at the 5 crucial stages of development.
With stages 1 to 4, a version of the FS-X was released but we struggled with various reliability issues and to make sure performance wouldn’t degrade to the point where units had to be returned. In stage 5, which is now, we have eliminated reliability issues and we are ensuring that the FS-X will be compatible with our technology platform to ensure everyone has access to added benefits and we can guarantee to provide support going forward.
We want to give you a clear understanding of what the main challengers were, why the occurred, and where we are now.
Stage 1: 2014
Prototypes reviewed as mono speakers during the live Kickstarter project.
To validate our claims of over 100 dB and 50+ hours battery life (deemed impossible at that time).
Positive reviews from reputable sources such as HiFi World.
We successfully met our objectives and achieved what we had claimed. However, at this stage we worked with a low volume of products in order to individually handcraft each speaker. This allowed us to move forward into testing speakers built using mass-production techniques.
Unfortunately, following rigorous testing, it became clear that a mass-produced FS-X was not a simple task and we needed more time to perfect it. We encountered severe reliability issues traced to certain components. These included; incorrect values (parts were unable to fulfil their full potential) and a large inconsistency in batches of these components (some were very good, some were very poor).
We also began testing the FS-X as a stereo pair, which again created some unexpected challenges.
These problems led to the first serious delay. We were forced to revisit our original design and adapt it to ensure that the FS-X could be reliably mass produced as well as having stereo functionality.
Stage 2: 2015
First look backers receive stereo prototypes in a Special Edition Carrycase.
To demonstrate the claims outlined in earlier reviews, and clearly demonstrate that the FS-X can work in stereo mode without exhausting the battery life.
Although the FS-X showed great potential, field testing revealed further unanticipated issues. These included; bugs in the hardware and additional reliability problems.
We had also received user feedback at this time suggesting the button sequence was confusing and unintuitive and we were taking steps in order to improve this.
Stage 3: 2016
A ‘second look’ for some independent reviews with adjustments and improvements promised after feedback from the first look.
To carry out further field testing to confirm we had resolved issues before we published independent reviews. Eliminate on-going reliability issues. And finally, begin shipment of the first batch.
Again, a positive and promising response – but not the home run we had hoped for.
We sent out units to several reviewers before the backers. This caused a minority of backers to become frustrated with us. We took this on board and took action by cancelling the publications of over 10 reviews.
We also sent some updated units to first look backers to see if we had successfully addressed their issues. Please see below to review feedback at this stage.
Stage 4: 2016
All issues resolved to our knowledge. Focus entirely on the delivery of the first batch.
To go full steam ahead and test our supply routes and delivery processes.
The first batch was a vital step towards refining the supply chain process and testing our delivery routes. We tested all areas of Europe, including some rural areas of Russia with successful results.
With photography and video evidence coming in from all channels, we were confident that this was it. As we confidently prepared mass scale units and packaging, reviewers and first batch backers began to provide us with disappointing feedback.
Reviewer feedback suggested that many speakers had since lost the ability to connect with each other and the playtime had degraded. This was shortly followed by return requests from a few of our first batch backers.
Backers then began to report similar reliability issues to those we had encountered at the ‘first look’ models stage. We had made the speakers more reliable, but still not reliable enough.
At this point, we faced a difficult decision – continue with the speakers as they were, and risk returns and unhappy backers, or once again work to improve the design to produce more reliable, mass-produced units. We chose the latter.
Advancements in technology:
Between waiting for improved components, we have always remained on top of advancements in audio technology which opened up possibilities to expand our range of products, in addition to and incorporating the FS-X.
Since the start of our Kickstarter campaign, our technology had improved significantly. While delays were unfortunate, they did bring two unexpected benefits with them. The first enabled us to implement improved hardware, software, and functionality to the FS-X. The second was that we could incorporate relevant parts of our new technology into the FS-X and support your units far into the future.
It is difficult to say whether an average product with reliability issues would have been less damaging to our reputation than severe delays. But we are confident that our advanced, final version of the FS-X will help to repair the damage.
Here is an interesting idea put forward by one of our Kickstarter backers:
Our community appears to be a mix between mainstream shoppers i.e. people who would have been happier purchasing a speaker from Amazon, they want results immediately. And early adopters i.e. people who are investing in this for the innovation, to be a part of something new and unavailable on the market today.
In hindsight, this was a result of our team being perhaps a little too optimistic when developing our timeline. For future projects, we will ensure to keep this as well as every other aspect of this project in mind when producing timelines.
Stage 5: Where we are now
To finalise upgrading the FS-X to our new technology platform, which is compatible with newer phone and streaming technology.
To deliver all rewards and pre-orders.
To recall, upgrade, and replace the first batch.
We are currently completing the final version of the FS-X.
We know we have damaged our reputation and we need to make amends. But this project will not run into a 3rd year.
All the best,
The Frankenspiel Team