Microsoft’s Surface tablets essentially invented the market for laptop/tablet hybrid computers, setting a standard that even Apple ended up following with its iPad Pro.
Now Eve, a Helsinki-based startup with backing from Intel, thinks it can one-up Microsoft with the Eve V (pronounced “Eve Vee”) — its own Windows 10-powered take on the Surface Pro, starting at $1399 for preorder via IndieGoGo.
Today, Eve says so many people lined up to buy the first run of Eve V devices, it actually briefly overwhelmed IndieGoGo’s payment processing system. At the time of writing, the Eve V had raised $722,833, or 964% of its $75,000 goal.
Even Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has taken an interest in the Eve V project after reading about it, says Eve CEO Konstantinos Karatsevidis, and will be getting a unit to try out when it starts shipping in February. After all, from Microsoft’s perspective, the whole reason it first created the Surface was to inspire PC manufacturers.
“[Microsoft] really wanted to see the device,” Karatsevidis says.
The machine is totally finished and functional, thanks to Intel’s funding, Eve says; the IndieGoGo campaign is to cover manufacturing costs and handle preorders.
At this point, you may be wondering what makes the Eve V so special. If you ask Karatsevidis, the answer is simple: It’s all about the community. See, every aspect of the Eve V, from the design to the processor to the keyboard cover material, was decided with full and complete input from Eve’s community of fans.
“We immediately started to see huge advantages”
The Eve V is actually Eve’s second bit of Windows hardware. The first, early 2015’s Eve T1, was a budget Windows 8.1 tablet, designed to balance price with performance. At the time, Karatsevidis says, Eve was really just two guys looking to make the kind of gadget they themselves would want to use.
“We were pretty unhappy with the products in the market,” Karatsevidis says.
The Eve T1 got pretty solid reviews, but Karatsevidis says that Eve was getting a ton of feedback, both via email and in the comments sections of press articles about the tablet. A lot of people had a lot of ideas for how the T1 could have been done better.
Karatsevidis didn’t just welcome the feedback — he rebuilt the company around it. In June 2015, Eve introduced Eve.Community, a site where anybody could register and help guide the company as it worked on its next project, what would become the Eve V.
“We immediately started to see huge advantages to this,” Karatsevidis says.
“The community stepped in and stopped us”
Karatsevidis says that there’s this tendency in the market, especially when talking about hybrids like the Surface Pro, to focus on sleekness above all else.
The problem, Karatsevidis says, is that this sleekness comes at the cost of things that users really care about, like battery life or additional USB and monitor ports. So while Eve’s original designs called for something as thin and light as possible, the community came in and set them straight.
“The community kicked in and prevented us from doing so,” Karatsevidis says. “As a result, we have a lot of battery life.”
Now, Karatsevidis says, he realises that battery life can make or break a product, “no joke.” Similarly, the Eve V sports Thunderbolt 3, USB-C and 2 full-sized USB-A 3.0 ports, which beats the Surface Pro 4, which only has one USB port.
The payoff has been this tremendous rush of interest in the Eve V, as a device built by power users, for power users.
“We really want to challenge the big guys”
Intel found the project “quite accidentally,” Karatsevidis says, but was really intrigued by the notion of product development via the wisdom of the crowd, which is a big bet for Eve in the future.
Going forward, Karatsevidis says, he’s happy to see the Eve V go head-to-head with Microsoft, Asus, Lenovo, and every other PC manufacturer. But he doesn’t see the company stopping there: There’s no reason why Eve couldn’t apply its approach to crowdsourcing designs for phones, tablets, or even electric vehicles, he says.
“We really want to challenge the big guys,” Karatsevidis says. “We want to crowd-develop all kinds of tech with the community.”
Still, don’t expect to see the Eve V on the shelves at Best Buy or Target any time soon. From Karatsevidis’ perspective, a big part of maintaining the relationship with the community is by selling the devices directly to fans.
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