Linux-powered AI assistant killed off by 'patent troll'

Closing the loop on this, probably:

At over 4 years past the original delivery goal, I had given up some time ago on ever receiving my originally pledged-for device. Even prior to the latest announcements, their plan was to deliver one backer’s device for every nth device sold at retail. I was among the first 100 early bird backers, so that gives you some idea how well that went.

Interestingly, here’s what their January Update said:

52 Mark II’s have been released to backers so far, with another batch that will be emailed shortly.

Let me do a little digging. According to IndieGoGo, my contribution ID for the campaign was 109. I see that there were 4 backers at the $25 (sticker) tier, and another 2 at the $50 (challenge coin) tier. Even assuming that those 6 pledged before me, that only accounts for 106, which doesn’t make sense since the $129 tier (which I pledged) was limited to 100 units. I can’t imagine that I was the 100th backer at that tier, so there must be some other explanation besides cancellations.

I forgot about this wrinkle:

Let’s see if we can find the Kickstarter campaign:
(You might have to login to see this. Kickstarter likes to hide its shame)

Tier Backers
$99 Dev Kit 195
$89 Early Bird Mark II 100
$129 Mark II 951
$179 Mark II with Camera 475
$299 Mark II 3-pack 186
$199 Mark I & II Bundle 200

Based on those numbers, excluding the Dev Kit backers that I believe have received their rewards, I would be approximately 2384th in line for a device. No need to try to figure out my place more closely than that. I never had a chance, even under the earlier plan. I could order a device directly from them now, and I’d probably even get it, but at $499 on top of the $144 ($129 + $15 s/h) that I already spent on hopes and dreams, I can’t even begin to justify it.

Let’s take a moment to talk about that price. Here’s the explanation in the latest backer update:

When we first spec’d out this revised Mark II design, the cost of the components alone was about $99. But as the supply chain disruption unfolded our costs rose about 50%, and by the time we added import and manufacturing fees our out-the-door cost rose to about $300, not including amortization of the $100,000 cost of injection molds.

Even at $300, which is selling at cost and eating the njection mold costs, who is this device for? How many people exist that would buy a $300 smart speaker/display that doesn’t have an Apple or Sonos logo on it, and whose only notable feature is that it is open?

Finally allow me to express my exasperation at reading another prepared statement about how hard it was for a CEO to make the decision to lay off some/part/all of their workforce. Stop making it about you.


Ars is covering it now too: