The tech world is buzzing over the news that Apple is in talks to buy Beats, the headphone maker and streaming music provider, for US$3.2 Billion. This is definitely a surprising and out-of-character move by Apple considering they traditionally do acqu-hires of companies without such a large consumer presence (and in a considerably smaller price range). Its likely that this deal has something to do with the Beats Music service, a relatively new player in the monthly-payment-unlimited-listens music industry, an acknowledgement by Apple that consumer tastes are shifting away from the iTunes model. Until the deal is confirmed it is hard to say what this means for the consumer, whether there will be small apples on the side of Beat’s incredibly popular and often gaudy headphones is anyones bet. Lets wait and see.
A few days ago was TechCrunch Disrupt NY,a tech conference that is often a good indication of where the industry is heading. In this years Battlefield competition -where startups present their pitches to a panel of actually impressive judges – the finalists featured a notable number of hardware startups. These include Model1 by Heatworks, a smart water heater and Mink, a desktop cosmetic printer that prints makeup. If we take these finalists as an indication of the types of companies we will be seeing this year then we are witnessing an important shift in direction.
The amount of capital and expertise required to effectively build and sell hardware at scale has been and still is a huge obstacle standing in the way of new hardware startups. Whether it is the increasing availability of capital (crowd funding and venture capital) or the development of better and more efficient channels between the West and China, there are more and more small hardware companies. What this means is a matter for a separate post but this is an exciting development nevertheless. Side note: The winner this year was Vurb, an impressive contextual search engine that is certainly not a piece of hardware.
Behold The SCiO, a pocket molecular sensor. It is a small device that basically tells you everything that’s in anything. Using chemical detection, the device can tell you the nutritional information of food, the health of your plants and even the content of your pharmaceuticals, previously expensive services limited to a select few. The SCiO broke its funding goal in one day and raised over $1Million on Kickstarter in its first week. Will you carry it around with you wherever you go? Who cares, it is a spectrometer for your pocket!