Successful Kickstarter company, LIFX is finally shipping its Wi-Fi connected smart lightbulbs. The Australian hardware startup originally promised in its Kickstarter campaign to ship the product earlier than this. In fact it was promising to deliver by March, so they are officially late! However, they have managed to secure major retail partners for a consumer launch later this year and early next year.
LIFX bulbs will go on sale through Best Buy online in January 2014 in the U.S. and some global retail partners including DickSmith in Australia and John Lewis in the UK. These sales are all above the existing $10 million in pre-sales LIFX has done via Kickstarter and its own website. Not including the $4.6 million it has raised from private investors.
Co-founder and Director Andrew Birt says that they acknowledge that they’re behind schedule, but that the smart bulb race “hasn’t been won yet,” referring to the battle that industry giant Philips has set with its Hue series. Philips introduced two new types of Hue bulbs and starter kits recently, effectively tripling its product line up in a single campaign. LIFX will offer screw, bayonet and down light models from the get-go, however, and unlike the Philips Hue, they don’t require a base to connect to Wi-Fi to talk to each other and to your iOS or Android device.
The LIFX team has been working hard to repair some production issues and start shipping devices to pre-order customers, but they have also been working in the background on other efforts while that work was ongoing. “We’ve been building our retail and distribution network in the background while the core team focused on development and production…Lots of cool integrations coming too, with our API / SDK set for release in the coming weeks. “, said Birt.
LIFX may be starting late in the game, but the category is new and Philips may have done them justice by making customers more conscious that this type of product exists. The key to winning the race will be informing people that LIFX is a better bulb that provides a better experience despite the cost factor (individual bulbs cost $30 more per unit than the Philips series). Working independent of a base is a huge advantage though. We will have to wait and see what the customers will want.
[Image via kickstarter]