Right in time for the holiday season, Chumby Industries released the Chumby 1, a newer and cheaper version of the original Chumby that came out a few years back. Like it’s predecessor, it offers a large amount of free widget content including access to web based services folks use on regular basis: Facebook, Pandora, and Gmail to name a few. So why does the new Chumby offer a glimmer of light to what could be the start of some mass appeal? Because (in my opinion) they did a few of the things I pointed out in my post from two years ago aptly named “The Chumby Dilemma”
First they made it cheaper. The original used to be $180 bucks, this new one is $120 shipped. I actually bought two of them on holiday promotion for $99. They’re right there on the price threshold now, $99-$120 is more than reasonable for all the great things the Chumby does.
Second, they changed the design of the enclosure making it seem like it belongs in rooms other than the bedroom (was never a fan of the pillowish enclosure). They put a battery case in it (battery sold separately) so you could take it around the house. Basically, they made it feel like a hell of a lot more than an internet alarm clock, which it is.
So while I’m sure this cuts into their margins a bit, they made the product more enticing and salable by changing the easiest things. The brilliance is truly in the software and Flash based channels and I hope they focus and continue to grow that. So go buy one, it’s a fantastic device that has a special place set aside on my kitchen counter.
By the way, people are doing some really cool things in hacking the Chumby. You can see a list of all sorts of mods and hacks here on this wiki page. A favorite is this one recently featured on Hackaday:
1. The battery only lasts 1 hour. Pretty useless … also they don’t even sell the battery off their site.
2. I wish it came in black, I hate the case with blue trim. Just preference. I’m sure they’ll do other colors as soon as they can.
3. I like the new cost. 🙂
4. New case reminds me of a checkout at BK’s or McD’s. 😦
5. Best thing about chumby is that they attracted a fairly active dev community to create widgets for (typically) no cost. Granted a lot of content quality suffered, but it’s like the Apple Store … they can sell that # of apps to vendors who want to run that content on other device platforms.
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