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.

Mike Hanlon