Is $299 too much? Let's explore the full costs of a BusyBox D.
April 10, 2022
Since our Shark Tank episode airing on April 8th, 2022, we’ve had some interesting conversations about the BusyBox Digital's $299 price. Some say, it's too much, others say it's a fair price, and a few brave souls (who are probably engineers who’ve taken one apart) think it's a value at that price.
For this blog post we won't go over the $129 BusyBox Standard or the $59 BusyBox Remote which were both discussed at length when we recorded the Shark Tank episode because those conversations did not make the final cut, instead let’s focus on the Digital which got all the attention in the final edit.
We aim to be a pretty transparent company, so we figured we’d share our thoughts on why $299 is a good value.
After the airing, our own team did a deep dive evaluation of what the price "should" be and came to a familiar conclusion, $299 is the right price, right now.
We make the BusyBox Digital so that it will have a target lifespan of 5 years. We know some will run longer, but that's our minimum lifespan target and service window (for now).
Let’s go over some of the top cost drivers:
The HD LCD itself is an “automotive spec” unit so that it can take a 5G doorslam many, many times.
We put a great chipset inside (ask your engineering friends, they will confirm) and we put a good amount of RAM inside for storing more images and video
We use a thick, large and durable PCB for heat control and stability
Dual voltage control systems, one on the PD/QC charge system on the PCB and one on the battery itself, make sure the battery is well protected, super safe and maintained for longer life
The design has excellent ventilation channels for the battery to extend battery life
We use genuine 3M Command Strip™ wall fasteners and we use a high density foam for the packaging to protect the product in shipping
We use N52 rare earth magnets for the cover holding magnets which have great heat stability and powerful magnetism
Our design uses 3mm thick plastic (ABS) for great durability when dropped
We use a high-quality Taiwanese factory who makes products for some very large, high quality companies. Their testing and quality team is second to none. Steve has known them since 2008 and can attest to their quality control in component buying and test.
The chip shortage has hurt our cost, but we will leave that out for now.
By spending a bit more “where it counts” it help the product to run well and survive environmental issues for over a 5 year (or more) lifetime. - Fess, BusyBox’s CTO
What’s often overlooked by everyday product pundants is accounting for a lifetime of software support, even beyond 5 years.
But not us. We know the power of software and great usability. So what’s coming? Glad you asked!
More integrations with existing platforms, and the ability to integrate software that may not arrive until 2024
More features and apps like a countdown timer, a scrolling marquee preset, and more.,
Additional fonts and an image overlay feature (we call it Meme Maker)
And MOST IMPORTANTLY, making sure that when Apple and Android make changes to their software, your BusyBox App and BusyBox Digital hardware gets updated and just keeps running.
See the current software roadmap on the website here
And don’t forget, we don’t get to keep all $299 … not even close! We need to leave room for resellers like Amazon. Amazon does SO much business for us and they are not our cheapest selling channel, but they do the most business and they take a pretty good chunk out of that price.
And let's face it, for most of us, when we find out about a product our first move is to check it out on Amazon. So, they need a cut to do their job.
For the fun of it, let’s do a full 360 degree analysis.
Now, let’s pretend to be a company that wants to build a 1-year “throw away” product. Let’s go for a money grab product and build it to last 90 days to a year. Here’s what we have to do.
Thinning out the design by 50% to 2mm plastic will save a bit of money but make the product very easy to crack when dropped
The PCB is well supported inside, so if we chose a super thin circuit board we can save a lot of money, but we will have heat dissipation issues and it may cause traces to break with constant heating and cooling, thus rendering the unit inoperable
The battery could be cut down to 2,500 mAH for much lower operating time and making the product thinner, thus saving on carton, plastic and battery costs. While we’re at it, let’s remove the redundant safety and quick charge system and save a bunch.
Here’s another big saver, get a low-power processor with very little RAM so the user has to wait a long time for image uploads, and not have enough memory to hold videos or more than a couple presets. Now we are SAVING!
Now for the factory. Let’s use the cheapest bidder, the one with the price so low we don’t believe it; let’s use them! Sure they may cut corners on components, sure they might not test every unit and sure they might ship fakes out of the back, but we are pretending to be the “go low” maker so we’ll use them and save a lot.
Lastly, and most importantly, let’s make the minimum viable software we can at launch, then, we’ll just not support it regularly. Sure, when a new Android or iPhone release goes out, we might get around to updating the app someday. Sure it may be hard to use, but we’re pretending to be the “low cost” provider and this is how we run the software part of the business.
Support! Let’s offshore it! Let’s use some low-cost firm that’s not even in the US or close to the US’s time zones.
That pretend scenario is not too far from reality, right?
We’ve all bought a cheaply made product, with a bad app that as soon as a new release comes from Android/Apple the app stops working. We inquire about an update and we never get an answer. We bought cheap, and we got what we paid for, and now it’s time to buy again.
To me, that’ okay, that’s a personal choice. If you’d rather Spend $100 three times over three years instead of $300 up front, that’s fine. It’s a personal choice and that’s what makes you happy. No worries. But likewise, we ask that you don’t diss on someone who wants to spend $299 upfront and never worry again.
My grandmother once said to me, “Buy the good stuff and cry once.”
She couldn’t have been more right. I’ve never regretted paying a bit more for “the good stuff” if I know it’s something I want to last a long time.
I have LL Bean boots from 1991 that are still going strong.
My Bose home theater system from 1999 has a stuck CD magazine, but other than that, it just keeps running.
I even have an Apple iPad from 2012 that I use for reading at night in bed. None of these were the cheapest model.
All were a bit “overpriced” in the eyes of some, but they were all built-to-last and that’s what I love about the BusyBox Digital, it’s built to last.
Can we make a BusyBox Digital cheaper? Of course. Will we cheap out on the hardware? Nope. It’s important to us that it lasts for years and years and isn’t in the ground as trash in a year or two.
We have the margin we need to keep the software updated, improving all the time and to keep adding features that our users want. If $299 is too much for you, no worries. But if you do spend $299 on a Digital, we believe someday you’ll look back and say “What a good value that was.” That’s our mission.