Moon by 1-Ring, an analysis of the crowdfunding campaign
Moon by 1-Ring, Inc. is a gimmicky, yet functional product idea with a flawed marketing and financing model.
Though understated crowdfunding goal and shipping dates put this to question, even if Moon by 1-Ring reaches production stage and the end user, the final product is unlikely to find wide adoption by the general markets targeted by the company. It will also cause a privacy controversy as shown by the Microsoft Kinect’s previous experience — because security camera and everyday appliance features don’t mix well.
The $45.000 fixed crowdfunding goal is not realistic
My research is consistent with internal sources stating that the cost to produce a copy of Moon is around $190. Backers receive it for $229, which sounds pretty generous on the company’s side. When you add taxes and other expenses, the financial gain is almost non-existent.
The country of production is China. Despite low production costs, Chinese factories adjust for the lower profit margin by high Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ).
For a product like The Moon by 1-Ring, the estimated MOQ would be no lower than 1000 items (no custom colors), and the cost to produce 1000 copies would be $190.000, way higher than the $45.000 goal. $250.000 stretch goal promises custom colors, which would double or even triple the MOQ and, correspondingly, the production budget. Thus, the crowdfunding goal isn’t realistic even remotely.
The 2018 March serial production date is pretty risky too for a product that doesn’t have a fully functional prototype ready to be mass-produced. But more on that…
IndieGoGo was chosen as the crowdfunding platform over Kickstarter because the product does not have a fully functional prototype
This isn’t explicitly stated in the marketing materials, but was confirmed by inside sources. Raises an ethical question — what will happen if the engineering team is unable to develop a functional product which fulfills the promise set by marketing materials.
What happens if the final product is not mass-producible, considering it uses proprietary patented technologies, does not match the promised specifications, is too expensive to produce, etc.?
The product lacks focus in market positioning
Moon by 1-Ring positions itself as a security device, video conference camera and everyday webcam, which targets 3 different markets at once:
- Home security: response — DANGER, placement — protected territory, entry points.
- Business: response — EFFICIENCY, placement — work area.
- Everyday computer appliances: response — FUN, placement — the user.
The stationary power supply, size, shape do not suggest that Moon is highly portable. This means Moon is unlikely to perform all three functions at the same time and will likely be forced into a particular role.
Affordable indoor security camera costs start from $59 (Tend Secure Lynx on Amazon). High quality video-conferencing and everyday use cameras cost around $79 (Logitech C922). Feature-wise these products are arguably superior to Moon by 1-Ring, even if they don’t look that fancy.
Also, the emotional responses to the device aren’t compatible either. Without necessary focus, the intended role of the device is confusing, its price — too high for its market.
The description of the product does not synergize well with — and reinforce the marketing strategy of the product
This can be mostly blamed on the weak focus discussed above. But it also does not state why Moon is superior to other products — later on the page you can actually see a pretty peculiar comparison to products like Netgear Arlo Pro.
This comparison is very interesting. Just bear with me:
- Netgear Arlo Pro is an outdoor weather-proof wire-free security camera with a very narrow and specialized feature set, not an indoors all-around smart camera/smart home hub.
- Nest Cam IQ is backed by Google. It promises to be a truly smart indoors security camera, with the ability to distinguish people from items and even features face recognition. The product description does not exhaust the potential of the product. Google also throws in a Google Home Mini for Nest products that cost above $99.
- Angee is a crowdfunded home security system with a camera and sensors to monitor all entry points.
So how is Moon superior to these very different products? I’m just gonna copy-paste the comparison, which is an image for some reason:
Most of these are not primary, but secondary features you’d want in your home security system. Angee has its sensors, Nest IQ has its “smart recognition” features, Arlo Pro is weather-proof.
Moon by 1-Ring mainly has the following advantages — Z-wave, ZigBee, appliance control and directional microphone. Plus wireless charging. And you can choose your cloud storage. And a 360 degree view.
Ok, let’s try to make sense of this mess. The product description states:
- Smart Home Hub with ZigBee, Z-Wave, BLE & IR Blaster
- Stabilized levitation with wireless charging
- 360° Day&Night Vision with sound direction detection technology
- Temperature, CO2, Humidity and Light Sensors
- No paid plans, no hidden fees
- No wires, No setup, No installation
The first point (Smart Home Hub) is in line with the everyday camera functionality, promising to act as a hub to control supported home devices and integrate with the smart home ecosystem trend.
Stabilized levitation with wireless charging looks like a pure gimmick which is also the only truly innovative and defining feature of the device. No explanation is given to why it is necessary and why it is superior to other technologies. For a device which tries to market itself as a functional and not a decorative product, a gimmick with a large footprint on the price tag looks wasteful.
360° Day&Night Vision with sound direction detection technology goes in line with the security camera functionality, even though with different marketing and some additional features it could be positioned as a Smart Home Hub feature (e.g. deeper Amazon Alexa integration and the device responding to your voice and looking in your direction, voice commands etc.).
Temperature, CO2, Humidity and Light sensors further position it as a smart home hub/home security system, but these features do not require a levitating wireless charged camera and would work better as an addon for Amazon Echo-Google Home-like devices. The CO2 sensor in particular is baffling; a CO sensor would be better placed on a device like this, as CO poisoning is a much bigger issue than bad ventilation.
No paid plans, no hidden fees — would sound nice if the physical product was bundled with a substantial service package adding to its value (like cloud storage for modern security cameras).
No wires, no setup, no installation — in my opinion, this line, showing the simplicity and accessibility of the device should go first, followed by killer features, and the core features/specifications further in the small print.
The lack of focus in marketing leads to lack of focus in UX
A case study on the Microsoft Kinect’s always-on feature leading to a privacy controversy would have warned 1-Ring of the possible concerns about marketing an always-on camera for everyday use. But, for some inexplicable reason, they even described it as a feature. Just take a look at “the most memorable moments will never be lost again” section, which also implies you having an always-on camera recording all of your actions — which actually sounds even worse than Kinect’s original privacy concern.
The UX and marketing of Moon could be designed for a smart home hub with a security camera and environmental sensors. This is a product people would prefer to isolate from their private lives. Or they could be designed for a smart home hub with a voice-activated and voice controlled everyday smart camera (and I have to admit that the idea of the camera starting to float above its stand on “Moon, activate the camera” sounds kind of cool).
Another case study the developers of Moon could have made would be the recent laptop camera scare, with people gluing tape over the cameras of their laptops when it was found out that remote attackers could access the camera without even activating the camera LED signal.
What I’m saying is, it doesn’t matter if you assume your device is secure. The consumer is entitled to their own judgement. And to learn the judgement of the consumer, you do research.
In case you’re planning a crowdfunding campaign, here’s what you could learn from this example:
- Focus in design, focus in marketing — filling a specific niche, that your marketing research has found vacant, a UX/feature set built around it, and a marketing campaign to highlight it, as opposed to trying to fill separate, badly related roles.
- Don’t go into a crowdfunding campaign without a prototype. Don’t have a money? Find an investor. These guys are usually good at what they do, because it’s their money, and if you really have a good, marketable product, they would happily cover the expenses of building a prototype. And they could help you see the shortcomings of your product too.
- State the real amount of money needed to get your product to the backers. Those guys trust you with their money, you owe them some transparency.
- Always be transparent about what is going on with your product. If you blackbox the product and go around with vague excuses, the backers will lose faith in you and your company pretty fast, and you don’t want that to happen. You might be an honest company with bad PR and end up being labelled a scammer. And you’d only have yourself to blame for that.
As for Moon by 1-Ring, it is my prediction that there will be delays and while there will likely be a final product (they were lucky to raise $357.122 by December 16th), it will deviate from the advertised specifications.
As for will it turn into a profitable business — my answer is no. I’m sorry.
Moon by 1-Ring: World’s COOLEST Smart Home System
Chinaimportal blog, “Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) — Why it’s required in China”
The Verge, “The Xbox One will always be listening to you, in your own home”
The Guardian, “Why is everyone covering up their laptop cameras?”