Posted By Simon Montford on Nov 20 2015
From hero to zero, the Zano drone failed to take off. Having been one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of 2014, the team behind the doomed project concede defeat. The company raised over £2m worth of pre-orders from 12,000 supporters, and it now appears that the majority of those that paid £170 to own one will have nothing to show for it.
We covered the campaign around this time last year at the peak of the campaign's hype cycle, you can view the blog post here; what a difference a year can make!
This week, management from Torquing Group, creators of the ill-fated Zano, released a statement informing backers that the company is inextricably destined to enter voluntary liquidation. This means that those who have not yet received their Zano will almost certainly not be getting one in time for Christmas, or ever for that matter. Even though the company did manage to ship a few before its untimely demise, it was all to no avail, as reports from the few "lucky" recipients have been less than flattering, and that's an understatement. Probably the politest way to describe their state of mind is "disgruntled", but to appreciate the full extent of their venom, you will need to turn to social media. Be warned, however, the company's Facebook and Twitter pages are not for the faint-hearted. Some of the comments posted by Zano owners and prior supporters are colourfully worded!
I actually contacted Phil Busby back in May when he was the company's Operations Director, because I was keen to have him speak at the WEB3//IOT Conference and Hackathon that took place on 29th May, but unfortunately he declined my invite. With hindsight, I now get why he was so reluctant!
Before we heap scorn on Zano's creators and Kickstarter, the crowdfunding platform that facilitated the contretemps, it's important to bear in mind that Kickstarter, and similar sites such as Indiegogo, are not like Amazon or eBay. They are often referred to as "Pre-commerce", or "Pre-tail" websites because, unlike traditional e-commerce websites, their primary aim is to help early adopters a.k.a "patrons" support creators of avant-garde products by providing them with the funding they need to finance their projects. The very reason why these kinds of products are launched on crowdfunding websites, and not by well-established OEMs, is that they are often technologically unproven, or there's not sufficient evidence that a large enough market exists for such cutting-edge, unconventional, or risqué products. This is exactly what makes these types of project so speculative, and therefore risky. So before you place a pre-order, caveat emptor! Your purchase should be regarded as a show of support, not a hard-nosed commercial exchange.
Rather than use Kickstarter to grab a bargain, or obtain kudos from being among the first to receive the latest and coolest products, instead use it to support the "Maker Movement" that now contributes 30 billion dollars a year to the global economy. Like I said, your pre-order should not be an "order" for goods in exchange for cash, but a gentle request in the form of a philanthropic gesture. If you are lucky enough to get something you purchased in time for Christmas, then count your blessings and think of it as a bonus. You can also feel really good about yourself, because by supporting all those independent makers that are brave enough to launch campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you are helping to democratise innovation, and that's got to be worth a big pat on the back. Go ahead, you deserve it. If you don't agree with this sentiment, or you're simply not willing to risk your money for a good cause, by all means play it safe and run with the herd. I'm sure both Amazon and eBay will appreciate your custom.
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