Crowd funding can sometimes be a way for unusual products to find a market before any units get made, but sometimes it instead reveals that there isn't a market or that potential buyers don't see a project as being viable.
For example, there's a new project on IndieGogo this week which seeks to build a laptop for writers called the . This entirely untested design would be built around a 13.3" E-ink screen. It would run Android with a customized word processing app, be waterproof, and (according to the claims of the promoter) sport a 2 month battery life.
The backers want to raise $50,000 to develop and ship the Fusion Writer, with the first units to arrive around the end of 2015.
After 4 days they have raised $10. Yeah, I don't see this project getting funded.
While you might write off the lack of success as a failure to draw attention to the campaign, I suspect that everyone (including the bloggers who aren't writing about it) who has looked at this so far has reached the conclusion that this is one project which probably won't make its funding goal, but even if it did it won't ship the product.
For one thing, the fact that there was a simultaneous Kickstarter project makes the backers appear either sketchy or naive; I don't know which. But that point is less important than my feeling that the backers don't know what they are getting into.
This Indiegogo campaign seeks to raise $50,000 to develop a new device from scratch. I've never done this myself but that doesn't strike me as being nearly enough money to develop a new design, much less get it into production.
Hardware development for a device as complicated as a laptop can run into the millions of dollars, and that doesn't include the cost of producing the laptop. And even development costs for a simpler device, like the Earl back country tablet for example, will run in to the tens of thousands of dollars - and that device hasn't even shipped yet.
The combined development and production costs for a laptop simply cannot be squeezed into $50,000. That is enough to maybe fund a conversion kit so backers can do a DIY conversion on an existing laptop,but building a complete unit?
And that's a shame, because I really liked this idea.