Mass Production Date, Packaging Update, August 26, 2012
Despite the company's secrecy, it's really easy to figure out when Apple is about to ship their next major product. Investigative journalists like MacRumors.com speak to Chinese freight shipping brokers who tell them, "shipping rates rose 20% in one week. [This must mean] Apple has snapped up available shipping capacity." The $600 billion juggernaut dictates production and shipping schedules when it delivers a new product.
Unfortunately, Gotham Bicycle Defense Industries does not. So when our factory told us last week, we're pushing your mass production date to September 10th there was little we can do. We're a small fish in a big, international manufacturing ocean with lots of promise but little power.
The best we can do is be honest with our super-supportive customers and give them play-by-play updates on our progress. Shipping is now in September and we'll let you know more when we know more.
On the good news side, we created custom packaging that minimizes waste. Typically, when a manufacturer ships you a mail order product, it comes in plastic packaging within a generic (or Amazon) box. This is wasteful. We have created one box for both packaging and shipping. It's simple but gets the job done without creating extra waste.
How Steve Jobs inspires Gotham to save our customers years, August 9th, 2012
[Delivery Estimate: End of August]
As we finish up our Quality Assurance Journey, one of our favorite stories from the Steve Jobs Bio is about bootup time. Jobs hated that it took the Macintosh minutes to bootup. "You've got to make it faster!" Jobs told Larry Kenyon, his OS engineer in 1983.
Larry started to explain about some of the places where he thought that he could improve things, but Steve wasn't interested. He continued, "You know, I've been thinking about it. How many people are going to be using the Macintosh? A million? No, more than that. In a few years, I bet five million people will be booting up their Macintoshes at least once a day."
"Well, let's say you can shave 10 seconds off of the boot time. Multiply that by five million users and thats 50 million seconds, every single day. Over a year, that's probably dozens of lifetimes. So if you make it boot ten seconds faster, you've saved a dozen lives. That's really worth it, don't you think?"
At Gotham, we're crazy about bike light setup time. There's a set screw that "locks" the battery door so people can't steal your batteries. That set screw wasn't very ergonomic, and it would take 1-2 minutes to unscrew the batteries as you fumbled with the tiny screw. We figure, if we have 100,000 customers and save them a minute each year, that will save a few years cumulatively. Not as many lives that Steve Jobs "saved", but well worth the effort and time.
Below is the new ergonomic set screw design with the screwdriver "channel" drilled in. The old design (left) took 2 minutes to change the batteries, new design (right) takes 30 seconds.
Bike Light Production Update, August 2nd, 2012
Brad's been working to get the Defender Bike Light finished up and out the door. He's maniacal about quality. Like Steve Jobs, Brad cares about things that the user never actually sees, like scratches on the inside of the bike light. Below is a list and some photos of what Brad is working on:
Laser Etched Logo: We're laser-etching Gotham onto the bike light. It looks good, but has a little distortion. Brad is working to improve that.
Silicone Shim Durometer: Defenders have rubber shims to fit different handlebar sizes. Brad is optimizing the durometer (softness) of the rubber to get a better grip and make easier installation.
Battery Door Lock: We lock the battery door with a hidden set screw. Brad is improving the design to make it less susceptible to production tolerances.
Water-Proofing: We use three gaskets to waterproof the bike light. Brad is adjusting the gasket design to create an even tighter water seal.
On/Off Button: How do I say this? Good buttons feel good. Bad buttons suck. We're improving the "feel" and operation of the buttons.
Below are some pictures that help tell the story.
The full monty: Factory product samples for our testing and selection.