Cinera Edge financial woes and poor product reviews

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6 min read
Cinera Edge hero

Cinera Edge provided an update as their personal HMD headset start to reach backers after almost two years.

We wrote about the Cinera Edge campaign where we talked about the product’s 18-month delay, badly-handled PR, and uncovered their bad record with their previous crowdfunding campaign.

The company posted a cryptic message in the Kickstarter comments urging backers to be patient, instead of posting a Kickstarter update to avoid alerting other backers who don’t follow the comments.

We have problems but we are about to solve them. There’s a reason that I cannot make a public update now. I will tell you everything soon (should be within one week, maximum two). Meanwhile, we are shipping continuously to our backers.

They finally posted an update on August 7, 2022 to talk about their financial woes.

Kickstarter:

Dear backers, 

As you might have figured, we were under tremendous financial pressure and are behind our shipping schedule. Fortunately, we are very close to solving this problem.

Even though we raised 1+ million USD in our crowdfunding campaign, we actually suffered a loss. Firstly, the crowdfunding price was deeply discounted, so the margin was very thin. After paying for the platform commission and marketing expense, the money left was merely enough to produce these units. However, the USD rate to CNY dropped almost 15% in 2021, so the fund lost almost 15% of its value as almost all of our costs occurred in China and were priced in CNY. On top of that, the BOM (Bill of Material) price rocketed in 2021. The two micro-OLED screens, consisting of around 50% of Cinera Edge’s total cost, rely on the same supply chain as IC chips, and their price increased by 60% due to the global IC shortage. So now, we are losing more than $100 to ship every product.

Other than unit production costs, there were other various fixed costs like salary, rent, vendors, prototyping, tooling, license, and certifications necessary to make the product manufacturing ready. In big corporations, it normally takes millions to develop such a complicated product. We achieved it with a small fraction of it.

As we haven’t received any external capital, we had to sustain all development with the crowdfunded fund and our own money. The plan was to start shipping in late June and finish in August. We have shipped several hundreds of units but are severely behind schedule as our cash was running low.

This is poor planning

They break the bad news about their financial situation before they dive into the product problems to soften the blow, or at least ensure some backers don’t have the patience to read the whole update.

Image sharpness drops at the corner.

To achieve the compact size of the body while maintaining a large file of view, we had to sacrifice some sharpness at the corner. Cinera Edge’s main purpose is to watch movies in which the benefit of large FOV outweighs the sharpness at all corners. Having said that, we added a mode to ‘shrink’ the screen image size to the central area to cater to scenarios that full-screen clear image is necessary. You can turn it on in configurations. And in the next firmware update, we will tight this mode switching to the long press of the 2D/3D button.

So you don’t get to watch the whole screen of your movie if you want it to all be sharp, or you can choose to watch full screen and live with corners that are not sharp, though we don’t know how much that drop in sharpness would be.

There’s also an issue on the wearing of the Cinera Edge.

How to Wear

The design of Cinera Edge is to hold the machine to the ear and forehead, where the human body is less sensitive to weight than the nose. Please keep the eye cover in as firm contact with your forehead as possible. If needed, you can use the band to tighten the machine.

You’re probably wearing it wrong if it doesn’t fit well.

Widevine and Google services

Widevine L1 is part of the google certifications that we are working on. Since Google has closed the window for any certificate below Android 12. We started porting Cinera Edge to Android from day one once we received it from our chipset supplier. Meanwhile, we are communicating with Google GMS labs to submit the device for certification. Please be aware that Google only takes direct applications from big manufacturers. We had to submit via secondary Google GMS partners. And Cinera Edge is not like any conventional Android phones or tablets that they have certified, so the communication with the Google GMS lab did not go very smoothly. We will finish upgrading to Android 12 very soon and make it available, but obtaining the certificate depends on the speed of our GMS partner and Google GMS labs. We are trying by all means to urge them.

We saw many comments of backers who received the items having issues with the fit of the Cinera Edge.

Here are some comments from backers who received the product.

There is no way they tested this on actual human heads.

StellyHD

Just received it and tried it for the first time. Impression: This is a real bad product. The distance to the screens is too far, so the screen you can really see does not show much (I am not talking about the edges). The Cinera Edge is far too heavy and it puts a lot of pressure on the nose and the tiny strap will not eliminate the problem. One of the worst products I received so far.

Aca Tenango

There are many more comments detailing feedback on how poor the product quality is. We won’t go into too much details. You can have a look at the comments section if you want to find out more.

The takeaway so far is that the product has not delivered what it promised. To be fair, that is the spirit of Kickstarter. Take a leap of faith to support a startup that dreams big.

However, teams that fund large amounts should get assistance on how to better manage and deliver their products. Cinera Edge failed in managing the relationship with and trust of their backers.

It also doesn’t help that campaigns on Kickstarter for products that are already ready for the market. So they are more of a pre-order and the products deliver with minimal fuss. Cinera made the mistake of making a false claim that has come back to bite them.

Risks and challenges

It has been a fulfilling but challenging journey for us to develop Cinera. We have successfully completed the R&D development and prototyping. The plan is to start molding immediately after campaign, and be ready to ship by the end of 2020. We have successfully developed and shipped our previous generation, during which we have established good connection with trustworthy and reliable partners. We are more experienced and confident than we were before.

They were to optimistic with their risk assessment and seemed to fail to learn from their experience with their first campaign, despite what they say.

Comments

2 responses to “Cinera Edge financial woes and poor product reviews”

  1. Chris A Frye Avatar
    Chris A Frye

    What this article failed to mention is that Cinera has also left many of its Kickstarter backers, like myself, out in the cold. They have cashed the check and failed to deliver the units, instead selling them via their online website.

    1. Takeshi Avatar
      Takeshi

      Given that they say they have run out of funds, I wonder if they would still be able to eventually deliver to Kickstarter backers. Would the profits from the retail units sold on the website be used to fulfil the Kickstarter orders?

      Unfortunately, Kickstarter has absolved itself of any responsibility since the onus is on backers to determine if the project can be trusted. And the disclaimer states that there is the risk that the creator might not be able to fulfil the projects. Kickstarter should do more to educate backers that funding a project is an investment, not a pre-order. Given that Kickstarter takes a cut of all projects, more should be done to protect backers that think that they will receive the products. More should also be done on due diligence to ensure that the creators have the ability to bring the project to life.

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