We had some fun yesterday with the befuddled early reports about “The Bug,” a forthcoming product from previously stealth-mode Bug Labs (funded by Union Square Ventures). Perhaps in response to the befuddlement, Bug’s CEO, Peter Semmelhack, provided more detail on the company’s blog:
Peter set the scene by noting the iPhone-like products are built on assembly lines and made to be “one-size-fits-all.” He denigrates this as “an expensive, wasteful model for everyone involved – producers, suppliers, customers and last but not least, the environment.” Then he continues:
We see ourselves, our company and our product as a “bug” in the system of traditional CE; an agent for change. We want to put more power in the hands of the individual to decide what gadgets they want and what features they should include. We envision a world where CE stands for community electronics, where the long-tail of devices profitably exists and hardware mashups are as prevalent as their software counterparts.
So what is BUG exactly? It’s Legos meets Web services & APIs. Imagine being able to build any gadget you wanted by simply connecting simple, functional components together. Now imagine being able to easily program, share and connect these gadgets in interesting ways. In essence, we’re building an open source-based platform for programmers to build not only the applications they want but the hardware to run it on. Over the coming weeks and months I will update this blog with our latest progress. And while I used wooden blocks at the dinner last night (easier to get thru airport security!) I will show pictures of the actual products soon.
This leaves plenty of questions unanswered, but it helps. Most importantly, it should put to bed one initial idea about The Bug, which is that it would become a consumer product. With rare exceptions, consumers do not like to “assemble” products, especially when that assembly requires anything that can be described as “programming.” This is why consumers, if not Peter, LOVE the iPhone: they don’t have to assemble it, work to hard to figure out how to use it, or do much more than turn it on.
So perhaps developers will use The Bug to build consumer products. We just hope the company isn’t banking on consumers using it to build them themselves.