— Mobile Technology
BudTrap – a $5 killer product with ridiculously complex distribution
BudTrap works by sliding onto a universal earbud jack, allowing users to quickly and intuitively wrap their earbud cords around their music device or phone
June 8, 2009 Okay, hands up all those who spend too much time each day untangling the earbuds on their portable media devices? More than 200 million such portable media players are sold globally each year with numbers increasing, so it makes sense that there are a lot of man-hours being lost untangling earbuds. Now a simple and ingenious USD$5 device, named BudTrap, can save you those precious few minutes each day that you’ll never get back. There is, however, a catch …
BudTrap works by sliding onto a universal earbud jack, allowing users to quickly and intuitively wrap their earbud cords around their music device or phone. Once coiled and clipped, your earbuds are securely fastened to prevent them tangling up between uses.
Now the catch. Sadly, BudTrap has decided to make a simple killer product infinitely more complex than it needs to be. A whole lot of time can be spent digesting its website, particularly the free BudTrap Buddy concept, along with its very high-concept web 2.0 distribution methodology for what should be a pretty straightforward product purchase.
Maybe you’ll like the way the distribution works, but it strikes me that the website could do with some simplification because I went round and round trying to work out what the difference was between BudTrap and BudTrap Buddy and what BudTrap Battles were about and ... it just doesn't need to be that convoluted.
If I were them, I'd sell BudTraps in lots of 1000 and print to order in company colors so companies could give them away as highly visible, low-cost promotional items that are actually useful. On top of that, the US$5 is too high in my humble opinion - arguably worth every penny for the time it saves but I think people get annoyed when they see a company unnecessarily price gouging. It's a great design, but will cost a cent or two to manufacture.
Regular callers to my cell phone would readily testify that I waste two people’s time simultaneously for about five seconds as I untangle my earbuds, and that happens at least a dozen times a day – so in my mind it’s a killer product. Apart from the 200 million new PMPs sold each year, there are a billion already out there, and four billion cell phones just waiting to be upgraded into smart phones, so the prospects are extremely good for this product.
I also understand that distributing a USD$5 product doesn't leave much margin for a distribution network, but I’ve read through the website several times now and I’m still not sure how the distribution works. Am I too stupid to be doing this job, or have the folk behind BudTrap been too smart for their own good? See for yourself.
About the Author
Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks.
All articles by Mike Hanlon
It was easier and less confusing for me to set up a 401(k) account with my employer than to figure out how one gets a BudTrap. :-)
You are so right, it was the most confusing site I have ever seen. The Bud-trap on facebook was even worse.
First of all thanks for taking the time to work through our site, that also extends to your readers aswell.
I want to apologies for the delayed response but we have been listening, learning and engaging in a ton feedback. And I thought your readers would like an update on the type of conversations we've been having. They range from... Love what your doing - how can i help? Here are some ideas for your site.... too... it's way too complicated or to quote you mike :!) am I too stupid for this?
When you get down to it, we are doing a couple really different things that are not typical for accessories and we're learning how to get this message across. Yep and we've made a few boo boos. So its not you! it's us and we are working really hard to clean it all up.
Essentially, here's what we are wanting to say:
1 - Tangles are growing and silently engulfing us. It's really a "Global Crisis of Tangles" with over 200 million Portable Media Players purchased in 2008 alone (and growing) we are spending way too much time mucking around with these tedious tangles. You can see the tally growing on our site of time we've saved so far.
2 - Not everyone will want to buy a BudTrap, but they might want a detuned version for free. So each BudTrap Impact (with cover) owner gets 4 bonus BudTrap Buddys to share with the community. To get your hands on a free BudTrap Buddy - make a fun engaging request, if you spark some laughs you'll most likely get someone willing to share with you. Already seen some international sharing & some friendships made (mostly through facebook as of writing). BTW - this request idea was shaped by the FB fans !
3 - Products should be participants in society and have an obligation to contribute to causes that make a difference. We're sick of seeing products that whack a big margin on stuff and don't contribute. Contrary to what you may think, we don't make much on these product. Instead of using traditional, warehousing, retail and all the rest, we invest in community, holding parties to help with the packing and selling & importantly we're investing $1 from every BudTrap purchased on our site ($4.99) to causes that enable others - ie. Kiva.org, Acumen Fund and Wikimedia (wikipedia).
4 - Printed BudTrap's, absolutely & we're working on this as we speak! (make sure to drop me a line if you want to learn more)
We know we have a way to go, and I guarantee that the execution of the above points will continually change to make things easier, but we are really trying to build a product that isn't just another piece of plastic. Rather one that utilizes this massive platform of tangles (200 Million) to generate benefits for the consumer & community.
If you or your readers want to drop me a line, or have some thoughts - please contact me below or tweet me!
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