Bug Lab’s CEO Peter blogged yesterday about the “pizza tail“. No, it’s not an analysis of the long tail of pizza (featuring combos such as Peach+Anchovies+Potatoes or Corn+Pumpkin+Cinnamon), it’s an interpretation of Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory applied to the consumer electronics/gadget industry.
I’ve spent the better part of 10 years designing gadgets for different companies, and there’s an unfortunately sad truth about the lack of successful innovation in the consumer electronics industry. The key word there is “successful” as there are numerous entrants into the space, from Prismiq to Dash, from Presto to TiVo. TiVo is a success in that it returned a lot of money to its investors and is still afloat numerous years later, albeit on questionable footing. Prismiq won best in show at CES in 2003, then couldn’t sell enough units to keep the company alive. Dash is pre-launch, with an uphill battle ahead of them (though I *love* the concept), where they are taking on a rather entrenched industry. Presto launched late last year, and again I feel it’s a good concept, with many barriers to “success”.
The common ground problem these companies all have to face? Hardware. It’s expensive with a capital every darn letter in the word! Expensive to design, expensive to built, expensive to test, expensive to sell, expensive to support, you get the drift by now.
This leaves the field of innovation in hardware rather thin, thus creating Peter’s “pizza tail”. In fact, the 4 companies I named above are truly variations on existing categories (TiVo=VCR, Prismiq=DVD player without the DVD, Dash=GPS, Presto=Printer). When people ask me about the gadgets you can build with BUG, I actually prefer to leave the question unanswered. I have a few ideas of my own, but I think the space between the categories will be defined by the first generation of Bug Labs’ customers.
I look forward to watching engineers, product designers, and entrepreneurs have the ability to innovate in hardware without facing the ridiculous cost and resource strains it takes to start a gadget company. Until then, I’ll take a slice with Pepperoni+Mushrooms. Okay, you can throw a little red onions on there too.