Amazon on Wednesday announced Build It, a Kickstarter-like program that lets you preorder potential products that the company will only build if it gets enough support within 30 days. Three days later, the first product has already reached its goal: Smart Sticky Note Printer will start shipping somewhere between July and September.
Built It preorders lock in a special price that only gets charged if and when the product ships. If the preorder goal is not met, the product will not be built and nobody is charged. It’s a low-risk way for Amazon to experiment with potential new products without incurring the full-blown costs of market research and user testing typically required to prove demand. Given the success of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Amazon might as well try the model for its own hardware development process.
The three Build It products available for preorder are all Alexa-powered gadgets. Amazon’s approach of throwing Alexa products at the wall to see what sticks can be expensive. All three Build It products are a “Day 1 Editions concept” — Amazon has applied this label before to two products it considered producing based on early user feedback: the Echo Frames smart glasses that got the green light, and the Loop smart ring that didn’t.
The first Build It gadget lets you print notes with Alexa (it needs to be paired to a compatible Echo device). Because it is a thermal printer, it never needs ink or toner. While the initial $90 price includes one yellow sticky paper roll, you’ll have to refill it with yellow, blue, pink, or white paper when the first roll runs out. Now that the goal has been reached, the price will increase at 8:59 AM Pacific on March 19, though Amazon didn’t specify by how much.
The other two products, Smart Nutrition Scale ($35) and Smart Cuckoo Clock ($80), are at 42% and 37% of their goals, respectively. Unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which display a total dollar amount or total number of preorders as their goals, Build It campaigns only show a percentage progress bar.
Still, given the month-long goal window, the first Build It products appear to be winners. Three days in, Amazon’s bet to piggy-back on the hype of crowdfunding campaigns appears to be working.
We’ve asked Amazon at what time exactly the thermal sticky note printer reached its goal and how many products the company expects to build. We’ll update this article if we hear back.