We got news last night that our iPhone 5/5s Spike cases had completed manufacturing in China and were being packed on to a pallet (pictured below) for freight shipment to Malaysia where the final assembly and pack-out occurs. These cases will undergo an incoming quality control inspection from our team in Malaysia, then keyboards will be assembled and installed, and then will go through outgoing QC and testing before being put on another pallet and shipped air freight to us in the US for final processing.
So while this is a huge step forward for us, there are still a few milestones between now and when we can provide you with solid ETAs. The wheels are turning however, and we want you to know that there are teams of people in three different countries working together to make Spike happen. The QC, assembly, testing, and pack-out should be about a 2-3 week lead time set of processes, and it takes about a week to move a pallet from one place to another via air freight (although expediting is possible, it’s prohibitively expensive to ship close to a ton overnight). So while we still have several weeks ahead of us before we get that pallet back to us in Seattle, we are already moving leaps and bounds faster through this process than with our iPhone 4/4s Spikes. This shipment will be more than enough to cover all our iPhone 5/5s related Kickstarter rewards. We’re also working to incorporate iPhone 5/5s parts into our iPhone 4/4s Spikes to facilitate a more timely production of those units.
As stated, you can request a change to the iPhone 5/5s versions of Spike, or an address update if you’ve moved, by sending us a message on Kickstarter – and if you have already done so, we have received it and will confirm with you before we process your reward for shipment. It’s been a long road up to here, both for you as our backers and for us, but we want you to know things are finally beginning to accelerate up to speed. We’ll get back to you shortly with a more solid ETA for your Spike delivery.
The Spike Team
As discussed in our last update, we just returned from a long trip overseas. The purpose of the trip was to manage and supervise the beginning of full scale manufacturing for iPhone 5/5s versions of Spike. We visited five different factories between Penang and Shenzhen to get everything in line for the production start up, which has currently begun. Manufacturing of all the components that go together to create Spike is now underway, and assembly of the final product will begin in about 3 weeks. Our first run is for about 3,000 units, and unlike for our previous generation iPhone 4/4s Spikes, these will all be complete at the same time rather than trickling in. We’re working on retrofitting and adapting new-generation parts to the iPhone 4/4s versions to continue to try and smooth out that process, which as you probably know has proven more difficult than we ever anticipated.
While in China we worked closely with the producers of our tactile switches and were able to tailor these switches specifically to Spike’s intended feel and user experience. After 5 different revisions we succeeded in reducing the actuation force requirement down to 50% of what it has been, while maintaining an extremely tactile, snappy feel. Being there in person was really beneficial to expediting this process and we couldn’t be happier with the results. The new switches will allow you to type very fast without sacrificing accuracy.
Take a look at the following pictures from our trip:
After all of the pictures and narrative (although brief), we know the bottom line for all of you is when are you going to get them! Although, we don’t have a firm date yet, here is what we do know – we are in line for production at the injection molding facility in China and we expect that they will be molding our first run during the week of the 12th. The keyboards should be in production the week of the 19th. We expect that by the end of the month everything will be complete or almost complete. We are only hesitating on an exact completion date because we have made too may predictions that haven’t gone our way and this is the first run with a new product. However, we will either be ready to ship by our next update (1st week of June) or we will have a realistic ETA. Meanwhile, we are continuing to ship the iPhone 4/4s units.
If you would like to switch your order from an iPhone 4/4s version to the iPhone 5/5s version, please send us a message on Kickstarter and we'll confirm with you before shipping your reward.
Thanks for reading!
The Spike team @ SoloMatrix
We’re continuing to ship iPhone 4/s models at a slower pace than we would like, however, we have shipped approximately 66% of iPhone 4/4s Kickstarter rewards, virtually all in Pitch Black. As we have mentioned before, our manufacturer had a problem when they tinted the plastic with the red or white color. We do expect red and white within the next week or two.
We recognize that due the long delay in getting the iPhone 4/4s Spike into production that many of you took advantage of our offer to switch to the iPhone 5/5s Spike. As you may know from the photos we have posted in the past, this is an entirely new product, and both the case and the keyboard and have required completely new injection molding tooling. Fortunately, we learned from our mistakes: we greatly improved the overall design from an engineering and manufacturing perspective and moved the case molding and assembly to a high quality company in Shenzhen, China. The result is that preparations for full production are almost complete. Tooling has been completed and raw materials for production and assembly are being acquired and consolidated at our factories in both Shenzhen and Penang.
We are flying overseas the 14th of April to help ensure a smooth start for the iPhone 5/5s Spike production. As production will be ramping up exponentially that week we will be poised to tackle any hiccups in the production line as they happen. To date we’ve had very positive experiences with our new manufacturer in Shenzhen (just outside of Hong Kong) during the development and prototype phase and are anxious to witness the actual production.Any backers at the iPhone 4/4s levels who wish to switch to the iPhone 5/5s models are more than welcome to do so – just send us a message on Kickstarter and we’ll sort it out before shipping your Spike. We’ll send out an email before prepping your shipment to confirm and give an opportunity for any last minute changes.
Next update we'll post photos of the iPhone 5/5s Spike manufacturing and assembly processes from our time with the three factories that produce the various components of our keyboards and cases.
The Spike Team
Happy 2014! We had quite a start to the year with a surprise trip to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. We hadn’t planned to exhibit at the show, but our new manufacturer invited us into their booth where we were able to demo Spike to the public. We received 100 sets of pre-production iPhone 5/s Spikes the day before the show so we spent the first week showing them off and these last couple weeks with loupes and calipers going over measurements. We’re sending in an updated drawing package overseas today that should cover all the final tooling improvements.
CES was a good way to do some on the fly beta testing of our hot off the presses iPhone 5 models. Based on feedback, we’re tightening up some of the dimensions around the hinge and significantly reducing the key actuation force to facilitate faster typing. Chinese New Year is coming up soon (1/25 - 2/8) so we’ve been pedal to the metal to get any necessary tooling mods started before the lengthy shutdown of both China and Malaysia.
iPhone 4/4s models are currently undergoing tooling & material modifications to combat issues that continue to impede production, including the micro-cracking around the hinge (particularly on the White & Red models due to differences in material characteristics) where we’ve seen breakage occur. We've had to do a lot of incoming quality control on this end to ensure the cracked units we've received get filtered out and returned to Malaysia. They're not visible to the naked eye, so we're currently checking every Spike that comes through our door with a microscope. We just recieved word yesterday that the modifications are complete in Malaysia and they have passed at a rate of 100% off the line (they've also moved to using microscopes to QC check at the factory). By the end of next week they're sending us a shipment of 200 units in Pitch Black – Red & White are going to undergo a bit more testing to make sure the pigments used in the plastic aren't causing any more issues. As a result, black Spikes will be fulfilled quicker than the other colors – if you would like to switch over to a black unit it's likely you will get your Spike before the white & red units. Please send us a message if you would like to change your color to black in the interest of time.
Overall, we continue to be impressed with the quality of our iPhone 5/5s models and plan to have those in production a couple weeks after CNY ends, and fulfilling rewards shortly thereafter. Any backers at the iPhone 4/4s levels who wish to switch to the iPhone 5/5s models are more than welcome to do so – just send us a message on Kickstarter and we’ll sort it out before shipping your Spike. We’ll send out an email before prepping your shipment to confirm and give an opportunity for any last minute changes.
Attached are a few pics for your viewing pleasure!