EDI­TOR’S LEAD-IN

Australian HIFI - - CONTENTS - greg bor­row­man

Another huge crowd-fund­ing fail af­fects au­dio­philes around the world as Kanoa, which had promised ‘truly wire­less ear­buds’, shuts its web­site and says it won’t be ful­fill­ing or­ders…

Ihave writ­ten in this space pre­vi­ously about the dan­gers of crowd-fund­ing, with a fo­cus on au­dio prod­ucts. Since then, many more crowd-funded au­dio prod­ucts have not been de­liv­ered, or de­liv­ery has been sub­stan­tially de­layed, some­times by up to two years.

The most re­cent crowd-funded ven­ture to fail to de­liver is Kanoa, which took au­dio­philes’ money ($149 each) for a pair of wire­less in-ears. At the time of writ­ing, the com­pany’s po­si­tion was out­lined on its web­site as: ‘At this time, we are in ne­go­ti­a­tions with in­vestors for fund­ing … without that in­vest­ment, we do not have enough cap­i­tal to stay op­er­a­tional … as a backer you have played an in­te­gral role in the devel­op­ment of the Kanoa prod­uct and com­pany …which makes it even more dif­fi­cult to say that without the cap­i­tal to fund pro­duc­tion, we will not be ful­fill­ing any more pre-or­ders.’

What made Kanoa un­usual was that it ac­tu­ally shipped some prod­uct to back­ers and also ex­hib­ited at CES 2016, but un­for­tu­nately for it, it also asked Cody Crouch, who makes YouTube un­box­ing videos un­der the name iTw4kz, to re­view a pair. He wasn’t happy with the qual­ity or per­for­mance—or the man­ual!—of the ear­phones Kanoa loaned him for re­view, and told them so. Crouch says on his video that rather than fix the prod­uct: ‘Kanoa of­fered me $US500 to post a good re­view on YouTube.’ Crouch ended up post­ing the worst re­view of a prod­uct I have ever seen and four days after the re­view went live, the com­pany posted a ‘po­si­tion out­line’ on its web­site, as de­tailed above. Need­less to say, with in­ter­net ex­po­sure like this, the like­li­hood of Kanoa get­ting any new back­ers is now zero. If you don’t want to watch the en­tire 27 minute 35 sec­onds of Crouch’s scathing re­view, try start­ing at 23:38, which is about the point he says: ‘This is trash. You don’t want to have th­ese. This is not a com­pany that you want to deal with.’

Kanoa didn’t use a crowd-fund­ing web­site, it in­stead crowd-funded us­ing its own web­site, of­fer­ing that any­one who or­dered and paid in ad­vance could get the in-ears for half price: (which was $149, as the com­pany said they would be re­tail­ing at $300). So whereas crowd-fund­ing sites put hur­dles in the way to try to stop rip-offs, Kanoa was free to ap­ply its own rules… or lack of rules to the crowd­fund­ing process. It cer­tainly didn’t help au­dio­philes that the well-known US mag­a­zine au­dioX­press pro­moted the Kanoa com­pany in its pub­li­ca­tion in 2015, or that Xiomara Blanco of C|Net com­mented favourably about the Kanoa wire­less in-ears after try­ing an ad­vance model at CES 2016.

Why didn’t Blanco ex­pe­ri­ence the same prob­lems as Crouch when she used the Kanoa in-ears at CES? That’s any­one’s guess, but I know of sev­eral in­stances where com­pa­nies have ex­hib­ited au­dio prod­ucts at CES that have been ‘tricked-up’ in­ter­nally with su­pe­rior com­po­nents that were never in­tended to be in­cluded in the ac­tual pro­duc­tion mod­els. Well-known au­dio com­pa­nies don’t try this type of trick­ery, be­cause they have hard-earned rep­u­ta­tions to pro­tect. Start-ups, on the other hand, have ab­so­lutely noth­ing to lose. .

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