What does a Chinese company do when it sees a cool Israeli product on Kickstarter? Quite simply, steal the idea and sell it for less money. Thus came the MiKey, made by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi
Remember the Pressy? The Israeli Android Button released at the end of last August that raised $700,000 in a Kickstarter campaign? But now, the little button will face stiff competition from an unexpected source. After the development team of Pressy, Nimrod Back and Boaz Mendel, worked for months developing the concept and raising funds from their Kickstarter project, Chinese company Xiaomi on April 2 announced the MiKey, which is the same as the Pressy but costs a mere 80 cents.
Stealing Pressy’s idea and selling it for less than a dollar
Xiaomi’s MiKey should work identically to the Pressy – it will allow users to click on the little button that connects to the 3.5mm connection on smartphones, originally designed for headphones, and will perform predefined actions on the device. Using specialized applications on the small button, you can set the number of clicks on the button and the action you want. Unlike Pressy, which is in its alpha phase and can support 3 consecutive clicks of different lengths, the MiKey button will support up to 10 clicks.
But the most interesting part of this saga is the price tag. Pressy sold through its Kickstarter project, started at $17, and through the official website of the button along with its fancy keychain and other accessories now sells for $27. Xiaomi announced that at the launch (expected to occur on April 8) the price for their solution will sit at 4.9 Chinese yuan, nearly 80 U.S. cents. It is likely that the Pressy development team will turn to the courts, but if it hits the international market, MiKey’s attractive price will not allow Pressy to compete.
“If we don’t have a choice, we have to stop them”
Nimrod Back, founder of Pressy, said to Geektime: “We have patented the Pressy, which also includes the design of the button, the button’s functionality and the connection of the button with smartphone apps. The thing is we have been exploring the option of going to the courts. We will try to talk to Xiaomi, but if we can;t reason with them then we don’t have a choice – we have to stop them in the end. I can tell you that early sales of the button are on the rise since the initial release of the MiKey. We cannot compete with the price, and the court will not have an easy decision to make – but yes, we can compete with the quality of the app.”
Xiaomi’s move shows the problem with funding platforms. A large company with resources can get ideas from successful projects like this one, which already proved its concept on Kickstarter, and steal their product and launch it through an assembly line, even before the original project reaches the market.
Finally, Beck added: “If Xiaomi starts producing buttons like Pressy, we will start to produce smartphones.”