Earlier in the week, I had the unique opportunity to hear Peter Semmelhack, CEO of New York-based Bug Labs, describe how his start-up company was radically disrupting the traditional consumer electronics industry. Using a modular, open source approach, Bug Labs is focused on bringing the Long Tail of Gadgets to everyday consumers. Instead of developing a few devices for millions of consumers, the business model is to make millions of devices available for relatively few numbers of consumers. His company has already generated buzz on gadget blogs like Gizmodo, and now Bug Labs is featured in this week's issue of Springwise:
"For a while now, web developers have been mixing and matching web services such as Google Earth and Yahoo Weather to create mash-ups that perform useful new functions. Likewise, programmers have grown adept at tweaking the code used by open-source software programs. The result in both instances has been unique applications the developers of the original technology likely never dreamed of.
US start-up Bug Labs wants to harness some of that same creativity by enabling tech-savvy do-it-yourselfers to create their own mobile devices. The company has designed several basic hardware modules that snap together like building blocks to perform whatever mobile function their owners can think of. âThere are so many great gadget ideas that haven't been thought of yet,â the founders note. âWe want to unlock and inspire the discovery and creation of as many of these devices as possible.â Besides letting them add whatever they want, the snap-together components also let consumers leave out what they don't want, which is a far cry from many pre-packaged mobile phones and PDAs that come crammed with features their buyers have no use for."
By the end of 2007, at least a few of the modules should be available for sale. According to Semmelhack, the plan is to make the modules available online first, before extending availability to big box retailers like Best Buy sometime in 2008. If you check out the Bug Labs website, you're probably thinking, "Wow, those products doesn't look at all like a phone or camera that I own." That's the whole point. As Springwise points out, "Gadgets built with Bug Lab's block-like components may not satisfy those who lust after branded mobile devices poured into seamlessly sleek designs. It will, however, appeal to people who enjoy making things, and like having control over elements of a product's design."
This is a company to watch. Mad props to Peter and team at Bug Labs!