Oh boy! Another wrist-mounted gadget! What’s this one do?
A Reminder on Your Wrist
Vybe claims to be a small plastic Bluetooth device that slides into a rubber sleeve and sits comfortably on your wrist. After it’s configured with your phone, Vybe will start to …Vybrate whenever you receive a phone call or text message or your phone falls out of Bluetooth range (you leave it behind). This phone-finder feature appears to be pretty popular among crowd funded campaigns.
The Vybe product video describes a bunch of scenarios where this gadget may come in handy, and I can personally see myself using a device like this. I often miss phone calls, and I found that in my single day of evaluating a Casio Bluetooth Watch, I never missed a message. Sure, it’d be nice to have some kind of display or time telling features on Vybe, but the vibrate feature by itself still helps. Especially for just $39.
In fact…I distinctly remember having some kind of Bluetooth wrist band like this at some point in the past. I’m pretty sure it was this one. That was like…four years ago. I wonder why Vybe is being treated like such an innovative invention. Presumably, there must be dozens of similar devices out there if I found a similar product four years ago produced by some no-name electronics manufacturer.
I can’t quite place it. There’s something uncanny about these two devices.
They’re the same device!
Even the specs line up. Vybe claims “about 4 days” of battery life while Buzz Band claims “90 hours”. The only part that doesn’t match up is the claim that Vybe requires Bluetooth 4.0 while Buzz Band only needs Bluetooth 2.0. Bluetooth 4.0 is able to use a much smaller amount of energy to communicate (the aforementioned Casio watch can get years of battery life off a single coin cell) and is perfect for this kind of application. However, considering Vybe still only gets 4 days use out of a charge, I’m guessing it’s actually using 2.0, and they’ve either intentionally fudged that number to make it sound cooler, or they just have no idea what they’re talking about.
It looks like the folks at Vybe are just taking some off the shelf wrist band that normally retails for $18.91, attaching some fancy marketing materials, and trying to fence it for a $39 pre-order. Sounds like a great deal.
A New Business Model?
I can’t tell if I’m a upset by this scam or a little impressed by its brilliance.
The purpose of crowd funding sites is to build buzz around a product and raise capitol that can be used to bring that project to fruition. There has been a lot of controversy around this subject recently as some major players are using services like Kickstarter to raise funds and build buzz around a project that they could probably fund out-of-pocket without distributing the risk to a bunch of internet strangers.
I think these Vybe guys are taking this one step further. Even if they were paying out-of-pocket, they’re still not taking on any risk because they’re not even creating anything new. My guess is that they’re trying to invoke Barnum’s Law to turn themselves into a retail outlet that doesn’t have to worry about carrying unsold stock.
Think of it this way: you contact a contract manufacturer who already makes a fancy gadget and get a quote for a certain size order that you find compelling enough to resell for a profit (we found Buzz Bands as cheap as $15.89 if you buy 100+ units), spend maybe $2-3,000 up front to make a fancy marketing video, and then try to raise $45,000 using standard methods of viral marketing.
If you succeed, congrats! you just sold $45,000 worth of product right off the bat. If you fail, you don’t have $20-30k of sunk cost tied up in unsold wristbands sitting in a warehouse. You eat the $3k you spent on the video and website and look for another product to sell.
If you’re interested in trying a scam like Vybe, it’s easy! You don’t even need to finagle a special relationship with a manufacturer. Just look around a little…
Announcing Upcoming Products from Drop-Tek
- Heart-Kicker Health monitoring wristwatch – $129
- Drop-Dapter Multi-function USB cable adapter -$25
- Bass-Droppr High fidelity Bluetooth speaker – $59
- Drop-Clicker Ultra-slimline durable metal USB mouse – $39
- Dust-Kicker Convenient microfiber cleaning cloth – $4.99
- Drive-Slapper Life Organizing USB data storage device on convenient slap bracelet – $39
We’ll be accepting preorders starting tomorrow. Products expected to ship in Winter 2013/14.