Last May, Incident Tech launched the gTar, a guitar with real strings that connected to a smartphone for some amazing sound processing. In the last few months, the founder, Idan Beck and his team have been busy preparing the 800 guitars he pre-sold on Kickstarter for shipment. Theirs is a story of creativity, cool, and the next generation in music technology. I spoke with Idan briefly about his Disrupt experience and how it felt to go from zero to shipping in less than a year.
TC: So how have things been going since Disrupt?
Idan: Things have been extremely busy and going well! Shortly after disrupt we shifted our primary focus on getting the gTar into mass production out in China. While we had already been going out there for nearly a year at that point, we spent the next 6 months hammering out every issue imaginable in production and learning about how much goes into making a thousand of something.
Now we’re starting to get units out of China in batches and fulfill them out to our amazingly supportive and patient Kickstarter backers. As a result of the last 6 months the product has really improved as well, with the end result and build quality far exceeding our expectations, since as a result of production we had to make certain changes to the design and architecture of the product, allowing us to make some significant improvements to the technology, along with the direct ability to upgrade the product in the future through iPhone delivered updates as well as hardware upgrades that our customers can install themselves.
TC: Tell us about the gTar before and after Disrupt. What did you think would happen before you got on stage?
Idan: Before Disrupt the gTar was still a relatively secret project being worked on in a closet-sized office in the flatland of Santa Clara. Before that I had originally started building the product in my garage in Cupertino and after that we were bouncing around for a while (even working for a month or so on an Icelandic ferry docked in the SF bay), but once we knew we were going to Disrupt everything sort of got official. Driven by the pressure to get things right, our team pulled together a really professional looking video and presentation in a matter of weeks while gearing up for what we felt was going to be a make it or break it point for the product.
TC: Were you scared? Excited? How does it feel to launch on stage? Idan: It’s definitely exciting and almost foreboding to get up on the stage, especially considering that you have such a short amount of time and it’s not really possible to leave much to chance. You’re somehow stuffing three years of work into such a short little moment, and hope that people understand implicitly what had to go on under the hood to make all of that happen.
It definitely has this sort of epic feel to it and we were definitely nervous as all hell. We spent every waking moment practicing and rehearsing every word and sentence we were going to say. Also, our dependence on our early stage prototype hardware was always something we were worried about. For example, the night before our presentation, Josh had to run out to get a Dremel tool that he somehow managed to find at the only open hardware store in Manhattan, so that I could make some internal tweaks for us to re-route some wires through the prototype to avoid any potential battery issues or audio problems that might pop up on stage.
That prototype is in a case now, and we’re planning to hang it up as a piece of art. It was very much a super early prototype (and the only fully functional gTar in existence at that point) and we easily had disassembled and reassembled it at least 10-20 times over those few days. In fact, we did it so much that we were ruining the screws holding on the pick guard and by the last day we only had 3 left!
TC: How many did you pre-sell that day? Idan: We launched the project around 2PM or something and we hit our $ 100K Kickstarter goal in just over 11 hours so by the end of the day we had pre-sold north of 200 gTars. The project ended up raising over $ 350k with about 850 people pledging to get a gTar.
TC: Why didn’t you play any really smoking hot-reggae jams on stage? Like “Stir It Up?” To be honest I think we could have chosen a better set of songs for our demos, but we were also playing it a little safe as well since we wanted to choose a song that I could play well enough knowing that I’d probably freeze up on stage. I think you can probably see my leg shaking if you look carefully enough in the video of the first presentation. We actually got a lot of feedback on that demo, so for the second presentation we did change up the songs around, which definitely was a good move.
TC: What’s next for gTar? Another version? Idan: We’re still working hard to get a gTar into the hands of everyone that backed us on Kickstarter, and are making solid progress and getting some great positive initial feedback. We’re eagerly awaiting another large shipment that’s on its way and on the ocean as we speak. We’ll be putting some serious effort into an Android dock and app, as well as Web browser based compatibility. We have done some light conceptualizations of how other instruments would work within our platform, but are mainly focused on the gTar for the moment.
We’re working hard to continuously make the gTar a better product, and as a result of some the design changes that went into effect during production, the units we are sending out today will also have the capability to benefit from those improvements as we roll them out. This includes continued improvement to our own app, such as a deeper exploration and development of the social aspects of the product.
A few weeks ago we launched an online store that is already generating pre-orders for the spring, and we’re developing retail distribution channels for the summer and holiday seasons. We’re also looking to expand our team over the next year as well!
TC: If Disrupt were an EBay account, what would you write in the review?
Idan: I would think that the comparison is much more likened to a summer fling. It’s a short, intense, and immensely rewarding experience that ends up surprisingly thrilling for everyone involved. At the end you might not end up being number one, but the experience will change you for the better.
Apple devices benefit from a huge, rich accessory ecosystem that means whether owners of its products are at a Best Buy, an airport or even a corner store, they’ve got plenty of options for cases, speakers, headsets, skins, charging cables, and more. A similar ecosystem is beginning to build up around the top devices from Android OEMs, but it still has nowhere near the reach and depth of Apple’s, and the market for Windows Phone 8 accessories is just getting started. And neither Google nor Nokia are helping things much.
Consider: Both Google’s Nexus 4 (manufactured by LG) and Nokia’s Lumia 920 ship with built-in induction charging. That’s awesome. It’s great to see this tech come to smartphones without requiring bulky external cases. But Google’s induction charging device, the Wireless Charging Orb, still doesn’t have a street date or price. And Nokia’s charging dock is ostensibly available in some markets like the U.S., but try tracking one down – AT&T’s site currently puts shipping times at one week for the Nokia Wireless Charging plate, though that may be because they’ve given away a bunch for free.
Nokia is an interesting case because it’s also partnering with JBL to deliver a sound dock (which showed up on AT&T’s website today, with no ship date information) that not only incorporates wireless charging, but also uses a combination of NFC and Bluetooth to deliver wireless audio streaming. I’ve seen/heard this thing in action, and it’s awesome, but getting your hands on one isn’t yet possible in markets where the Lumia 920 has launched. If I’m a new device owner, one of the first things I’m doing to do is look around for accessories, and the Qi tech built-in to both Google’s and Nokia’s latest devices are arguably their flashiest hardware trick, and the one likely to make the most impression on users new to the platforms.
Google already hasn’t delivered the Nexus Q media streamer, despite a lot of hype around its announcement and a few devices going out before they were fully baked. Now, to launch a phone with a “coming soon” accessory that’s needed to show off one of its core selling features seems equally frustrating.
I’m not saying these things because I’ve got a bone to pick with Nokia or Google; quite the opposite, in fact, since I think both the Lumia 920 and the Nexus 4 are exciting, innovative products from companies doing more than their fair share to keep the mobile market interesting. What I am saying is that these manufacturers need to be more aggressive about building and shipping unique and interesting accessories to help jumpstart the hardware ecosystem around their own products, not sometime later amid delays when the luster of what they’ve launched has already faded.Related Posts:
Waiting to get a taste of HTC’s first Windows Phone 8 device on Verizon? Big Red’s website says you won’t have to wait beyond next week for your first shot, indicating HTC 8X pre-orders will ship by November 13th (the same day the two companies have an event scheduled in NYC — now the only question is if the Droid DNA will make an appearance) for the black or blue colored models, although the red version is held up until the 21st. That date is in line with what’s been revealed of other carrier’s plans for HTC’s Windows Phone 8X, with T-Mobile on the 14th, Bell on the 15th and Rogers on the 12th.
Apple’s iPad mini is almost certainly set to be announced next week at an event in San Jose Tuesday, and we’re now hearing that it will ship a week and a half after that unveiling. November 2 is the ship date we’ve heard today from a source close to Apple’s supply chain, echoing an earlier report by Geeky Gadgets that that’s the day the iPad mini will go on sale.
Geeky Gadgets cited a prominent U.K. retailer as the source of its information. For the iPhone 5, the September 21 retail availability date was telegraphed ahead of time thanks to leaked information from carrier partners, and retailers have been a source of Apple-related product leaks in the past. Our own source has also previously proven reliable with unreleased Apple info.
In addition to our own source and Geeky Gadgets, 9to5Mac also tweeted that it was hearing this was the date it would be released and likely hit the first batch of pre-order buyers. It’s also the most logical choice, given Apple’s recent product announcement and release timelines. For the iPhone 5, Apple announced it on September 12, with pre-orders beginning on September 14 and devices shipping and hitting retail stores September 21. Pre-orders for the latest iPad started immediately following its announcement, and the iPad actually shipped only nine days later, however, so it isn’t yet clear whether the iPad mini’s pre-order date will be the same day as the announcement, or the Friday following, and our source had no information in that area.
Apple also probably wants to take full advantage of the holiday shopping season, so pushing for availability following closely on the heels of the announcement is a good bet. Traditionally, it enjoys considerable success during the holiday period. Apple sold 15.43 million iPads during last year’s holiday quarter, up from 7.33 million in the same period in 2011. It managed an impressive 17 million during the quarter ending June 30, 2012, however, so it could be poised for record-shattering quarter this holiday, if the iPad mini strikes a chord with users in terms of price and design.Related Posts:
The latest and greatest 5th generation iPod touch, with its 4-inch Retina Display and new multi-colored aluminum backs, is reportedly preparing to ship out, according a couple different sources. First, MacRumors reports that pre-order customers are seeing their order status turn to “Preparing for Shipment,” and separately, Japanese Apple-watching site Macotakara reports that Apple will begin selling both the new touch and the new iPod nano starting October 9 in Japan.
One customer is also reporting that his credit card has been charged, according to MacRumors, which generally means that the shipping process is underway. yesterday, estimates in Australia changed from October to an estimated wait time of “3 weeks,” and some new customers just pre-ordering now were seeing specific scheduled delivery dates of later in October and the beginning of November.
Apple had said that the iPod touch and nano would ship sometime in October, but gave no definite timeframe. Here’s hoping users will be able to get our hands on some of the new hardware soon. If you’ve pre-ordered, and are seeing your status changed or your card charged, let us know in the comments.Related Posts:
Amazon’s shiny new Kindle Paperwhite will start trickling out of the company’s myriad warehouses in short order, but it seems e-reading rival Barnes & Noble won’t let Amazon set foot in the illuminated e-reader market unanswered.
To that end, BN has announced that it has cut the price of its conceptually-similar Nook SimpleTouch with GlowLight from $ 139 to $ 119 — the same price as Amazon’s ad-supported Paperwhite model.
It’s easy to look at the move as a kneejerk reaction to Amazon’s impending Paperwhite Kindle launch, but Barnes & Noble claims it’s anything but. Apparently, the price cut has apparently been in the works for “months” now as part of the company’s planning, though I’ve got to wonder if Amazon’s announcement earlier this month may have helped force BN’s hand a bit. After all, Barnes & Noble has gotten to be pretty good at using price cuts to try and disrupt some of Amazon’s thunder — as Kindle Fire HD rumors picked up steam last August, BN cut the prices of its Nook Tablet line. Of course, Barnes now has some neat new tablets to push as we head into the holidays, but the move at least keeps those older tablets in competition with Amazon’s earlier Fire.
BN may have just made the cut official, but a few retailers were perhaps a bit too quick to pull the trigger. Target and Walmart (two companies that have coincidentally dropped Amazon’s e-readers from their inventory) both acknowledged the Glowlight-enabled Nook’s updated price yesterday. Now the BN site reflects that pricing change as well, and just in time — the country’s annual bout of holiday shopping hysteria is just around the corner, and this move toward pricing parity should force consumers to weigh their e-reading options based on each device’s merits rather than which would hurt their wallets the least.Related Posts:
Back in August, TechCrunch received word that Verizon was planning a vacation blackout for September 21 to September 30, indicating that would be the release date for the new iPhone 5. Now, new info suggests that’s the right date, based on different sources. MacRumors is reporting that FedEx is preparing for “surge volume” demand for shipments between September 21 and September 24.
The info comes in the form of a notice of class postponement for FedEx employee training, indicating that the shipper wants to have all hands on deck when it comes time to get the new iPhone into the hands of folks who pre-ordered and on retail shelves. Additional info received by Geeky Gadgets yesterday also claims to confirm that September 21 will be the release date for the iPhone in the U.S., the U.K. and some other countries. Apple is set to unveil its latest iPhone at a press event to be held next Tuesday at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, and we’ll be there, reporting the details as they come in.
Another interesting point to note: U.K. carriers Orange and T-Mobile U.K. have teamed up to create Everything Everywhere, a combined network that just announced it’ll be holding a special event on September 11, the day before Apple’s event. AndroidCentral says indications are that it’ll unveil a new LTE network at that time, ahead of the iPhone 5′s launch, which would make sense given the iPhone 5′s rumored LTE capabilities.Related Posts:
RadioShack might have had a difficult time keeping a lid on its partnership with Cricket, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in the official news. Launching under the expected RadioShack No-Contract Wireless banner, the unfettered phone service includes lets shoppers pick either $ 25 or $ 35 plans for basic feature phones or, more importantly, some tempting $ 50 and $ 60 smartphone plans. On top of unlimited domestic voice and messaging, these last two rates offer a respective 1GB and 2.5GB of data before throttling kicks in, with hotspot support, international text messaging and visual voicemail reserved for the highest-end tier. You’ll find just two Huawei phones if you wander into a RadioShack store for the Wednesday launch: the $ 40 Pillar, a keyboard-touting basic phone, and a white-tinged, $ 150 Mercury Ice that iterates on the Android 2.3-toting Mercury only in the change of color. We’re promised two additional, unnamed phones before the end of the month, and smartphones on the No-Contract service will be the only Cricket devices shipping with 8GB microSDHC cards to feed that Muve Music habit. The nitty-gritty of the hardware and plans await after the break.
Users that have purchased the HP Envy Spectre XT are facing a long wait for their ultrabooks to be delivered. A HP representative tells CNET that “orders are taking longer to fulfill than HP expected,” adding that the company is “contacting all customers who have placed orders to provide updated expected delivery dates.”
The company’s online store invites users to “customize and buy” the ultrabook, but clicking on that option reveals that orders will not be fulfilled until August 28th at the earliest. For comparison, customers purchasing other “customize and buy” laptops will see their orders delivered on August 14th and HP also has cheaper laptops available for overnight shipping without customization.
The OUYA could change the gaming scene. The low price Android gaming set-top box has the makings of something great. But as the old saying goes, content is king and without killer titles, the OUYA will have a hard time attracting consumers and developers alike. Enter OnLive.
The two companies took to the interwebs this morning to announce OnLive will ship with OUYA. This means the little Android device will have access to first-run traditional gaming titles at launch. OnLive’s library currently includes Assassins Creed Revelations, L.A. Noire, The Darkness II and a ton more. Having access to this deep library will likely give the OUYA’s creators a bit more time to court Android devs to make exclusive titles for their new gaming device.
“OUYA is rethinking the console business, making waves by using standard technology to make gaming for your living room accessible, affordable and more innovative than ever,” wrote OnLive’s general manager Bruce Grove this morning on the company’s blog. “In OnLive’s case, we pioneered a groundbreaking, cloud-based system that instantly delivers games to any device on demand.”
Along with announcing OnLive, OUYA also revealed the latest design of its gaming controller. Don’t worry about the colored buttons, the company noted on its Kickstarter page that they’re just placeholders. “We won’t leave out colorblind gamers. “, they said.
OUYA is the latest Kickstarter superstar. With 5.5M in preorders on Kickstarter and 12 days to go, the device is exciting gamers and developers alike by bringing Android gaming to the living room. The company behind the product aims to bring it to market at just $ 99, a relative bargain in the space with the Xbox 360 and PS3 retailing for $ 199 and $ 249, respectively. Since the device is powered by a quad-core Tegra 3 SoC, the device should be able to produce quality graphics, too. However, in order to be successful, the OUYA needs killer games, which is something OnLive can provide in large quantities at launch.
This is has been a good week for OnLive. Just days ago the gaming company helped the $ 99 Vizio Co-Star Google TV device sell out in just 12 hours. OnLive, and with that, alternative gaming systems in general, has had a hard time breaking consumers away from the big three gaming companies, but it seems, at least after this week, that times could be changing.Related Posts: