Long time since we all spoke.
Let me start with apologizing for taking so much time to come back to you and write to discuss with you. I took this time to do 3 things. First, to make sure that before you read this blog, every single product ever ordered is shipped. Second, to make sure that the set up works perfectly on the assembly line plus changes which can allow for the screen guards to be applied for you while in production (only the last batch will have it though) and third, to share with you a complete analysis on what is preventing us to deliver on time.
Speaking as of now, every single product has been shipped from the factory and is with the shipping partner. You all SHOULD receive an email from them between today and EOD tomorrow with your tracking numbers. I shared this information with Andy from Notion Ink Hacks: we had to call back many of the devices (packed and on the way to their owner’s addresses) to re-install the OS with the Sleep-Wake bug fixed. (Let’s dig into this for a while. Once we, as OEM, finalize the OS, we share it with the Manufacturer. It is their job to compile the OS again with the BSP and install it on the device. This time, they took the wrong BSP with the Sleep-Wake issue, compiled our OS and installed it. What we received from them is an apology on this, but that is not enough. The measure we have taken to resolve this is to first get a current instruction set from them with build numbers of the BSP, etc. and then the compiled image. The same steps are implemented at our end and the last builds on both the sides are checked for any differentials.). Interestingly, when you ship back your own products, they are classified as imports! Imports in China are TOUGH. This was resolved by using a bonded warehouse, but then products cannot be taken out from this warehouse. So instead of the normal 3-4 minutes time for OS image installation, it took us 15-20 minutes per installation.
Pre-installing the screen guards was also a request from most of the customers. Installing screen guards is simple, but the environment needs to be dust-free. We weren’t able to finalize where this must be done, as after the device is assembled, it is checked for touch screen quality and calibration is done. This cannot be done with a screen guard over the screen. Soon after this process, the device is packed, again in a dust prone area. For the last batch we were able to get one more stop on the assembly line, clean the device and apply the screen guard.
Let’s come to the analysis on current delays.
Notion Ink pushes for an order based on the lead times of the components to the manufacturer. When the order is confirmed, the money transfer is initiated. RBI (Reserve Bank of India) is involved as it is a BIG transfer and in dollars, takes around 3-4 days to process and complete the transfer. According to us, the swift copy (the proof of transfer) is the second confirmation of the order placed with the manufacturer. But according to the manufacturer, it is not. They wait for their bank’s confirmation (which can take an extra 2-3 days) on receipt. This would mean that there is an increase of 1 week in the lead time. For the last round of orders (from 9-18 Feb), the shipment date was 10 March, a duration of about 3-4 weeks. The order was pushed to our Manufacturer on 5th January as the lead time is 7 weeks. And adding a week of buffer, 10 March was a safe date. A Few customers had issues with the camera quality, and the vendor was reported. The QA was strict for the camera and 40% of the modules failed to pass this test. (By the way, the camera and the touch screen are the longest lead time components for us). But the worst part was on the delivery dates of Pixel Qi screens (arriving on 8th and 14th or March, well after 2 weeks of delay). The reason we were given for this is confusion about payment terms between the manufacturer and PQ. Though production could only start after we have the screens, it is very important for us to understand the chain of events as they are more important being hidden. And the last part is on the customs. Indian customs has made it clear to us that we will not be shipping to India anymore unless we enter into retail, or have a partner there. It doesn’t make sense on business grounds either as there is added Octroi, Sales Tax, inter-state tax and VAT on Notion Ink for every product sold.
All in all there is a heavy vendor mis-management. The support team has most of the answers but internal details(like those mentioned over here), are some things they hadn’t been told. The time between PQ release to the manufacturer and the delivery must be tight with no deviations at all. But we have faced continuous delays on this.
Steps taken to avert these:
● Change the manufacturer. This was the 3rd delay on their part and too much to handle for us. This is something which has already been initiated on the 14th of March, and in about a week, the transfer would be completed. This would need the complete transfer of tools, inventory and associated documents and IP.
● Stricter terms on defaults. Being a start-up (in August last year), the terms were mostly manufacturer friendly. But this time this isn’t the case.
● Maintain inventory of the long lead components. This would need a lot of capital, but the risk can be reduced by ensuring that the design and components match generations yet to come.
Also, this blog is acting as your last point of discussion. We will be changing this. In a couple of days, Notion Ink will go live with its forum and next, live chats with the moderators and support staff will start. The plan is to integrate the total customer and support system. So using your login, you can check your order status, log into the forum, discuss live with the support staff, check your shipping status, etc. This one end solution will help us to track the requests and make sure the ticketing system is optimized.
Also, from this Saturday, we will be starting the week-end specials. I have a few updates on the technology front.
There is one special assurance for Adam owners. their devices will never get obsolete. The OS will get continuous updates (recently we pushed one more) and UPGRADES. You might have read online that Google has decided not to make Honeycomb open now. That would mean that not every manufacturer will have its access. But on the official part, we have sent a special request for the access and are waiting for their answers. This would mean that we will have much more than simple ROMS. Current Adam owners will be a continuous part of Eden’s evolution, and they can apply for the latest access, to see whats going on, and be a part of its development.
Something on Eden 2 before we say goodbye. Xerox invented User Interface in 1975. That was 36 years ago. 1990 saw the rise of the Internet. Xerox designed that user interface based on the static nature of the content. You have files, folders and applications, everything is local (or at max over the network) and everything is static. Today, everything is dynamic. We are more interested in the content outside our memory disks, like on Facebook, Google search results, videos on YouTube, Wikipedia for information and knowledge, and emails for files shared. The UI should have evolved to take these new developments into considerations, but it has not. Instead it has given way to a special application (without which we would go mad) called the browser. Today we spend our time on the browser, and not on the OS. If your browser can get you access to your file system in a better way (it does give you access, but in a sad textual form today), you will forget which OS you are on!
But browsers were good till recently, before our needs exploded. I count the number of tabs opened around my browser (chrome), and I have at least 3 instances with at least 8-9 tabs opened on each (with one in incognito). So indeed we are looking for more and more instances of one application, where we can open a different page! Well that’s exactly what Eden is.
We will continue our conversations in the week-end specials from now on.
Till then, take good care!