The gold iPhone 5s (which still seems more “champagne” to me) was a phone that seemed improbable when it was first rumored, but Apple did indeed make it – and consumers seem glad. A report from the Wall Street Journal says that Apple is asking suppliers to increase production of the gold finish iPhone 5s in order to keep up with demand.
Currently, just a few hours after iPhone 5s orders have gone live on the Apple online store, the gold iPhone is the only model that’s showing a shipping time longer than “7 to 10 days”) in the U.S., and it’s not going to make it out to new buyers until October, per the order page. With every new iPhone, there are supply constraints initially in terms of how many Apple can produce, and it’s also possible that the gold iPhone carries additional constraints depending on how hard it is to produce the aluminum with that particular finish, but regardless it looks like the somewhat unorthodox color choice is the big seller this time around.
“I don’t care what’s inside the device,” the WSJ quotes TV-station employee Lian Jiyu, who was waiting for an iPhone 5s in Beijing, regarding his own device color choice. “Chinese people like gold.”
One launch day iPhone buyer on the ground at the Toronto flagship store reports that it’s already completely sold out, even before the doors have officially opened, thanks to a reservation system put in place for those waiting.
All models of the gold iPhone 5S is sold out at toronto eaton centre—
Mark Pavlidis (@mhp) September 20, 2013
Apple’s iPhone 5s and 5c launch in Hong Kong appeared to draw a considerable line, the WSJ reports, and in Beijing line-ups were manageable and without any kind of excessive drama. This differs considerably from previous years where there was almost a riot at the kick-off of iPhone 4S sales in the city. The company has changed its launch strategy as a result, giving customers the chance to pre-order and then assigning them a time to come to the location to pick up their devices.
Apple is selling the iPhone at launch in China for the first time ever, which could help alleviate grey market device sales, which are normally a big issue in the country. But it sounds like demand for the gold 5s, combined with scarcity of that model could create a different type of grey market opportunity, which is another good reason for Apple to ramp up production and try to supply the appetite for the gold finish device themselves.
Crave, a San Francisco startup that creates upscale, tech-savvy sex toys, announced that it has closed a $2.4 million Series A investment from over 60 angel investors, many of whom it reached through AngelList. The company will use the funding to increase inventory, expand its product line and find new retail channels.
Co-founder and CEO Michael Topolovac raised funds from venture capital firms for his previous two startups, including a total of $35 million for product lifecycle management software maker Arena Solutions, but says he wanted to reach a wider pool of investors for Crave. The decision to use AngelList was fueled in part by Crave’s positive experience with crowdfunding. In 2011, the production of its first vibrator, the Duet, was funded with $100,000 raised from about 900 donors through CKIE, a crowdfunding site run by Yanko Design, an online magazine about industrial design. Having a large network of investors helps Crave overcome the stigma of the sex toy industry and reach a mainstream audience.
“AngelList was part of our strategy because we wanted to get back to crowdfunding,” says Topolovac. “We had a lot of donors who were very supportive and we wanted to get similar leverage and impact on a financing level.”
The Duet is still the company’s flagship product and features a discreet design with a silicone vibrating tip, luxe details such as 24-karat gold plating on some models and a USB charger and memory drive with up to 16GB in storage. Crave’s second product line is called “Foreplay Jewelry” and includes stainless steel pendants that double as vibrators and a leather cuff that can be turned into handcuffs.
Crave’s design philosophy is creating sex toys that are discreet without being apologetic, which Topolovac says has helped it reach consumers who shy away from traditional vibrators. The company choses its distributors carefully. Its largest retail outlet is Fab.com, where Crave’s sleek vibrators fit in with other upscale lifestyle products. Other sellers include Good Vibrations and Babeland, shops that promote a female-friendly and sex-positive atmosphere. Crave, which designs and makes its products at it San Franciso headquarters, will use part of its Series A funding to find more distribution channels.
Old iPhone docks are a depressing sight in this world of Lightning cables and connectors, sitting with their 30-pin connector exposed and lonely. There are a number of Bluetooth accessories that you can use with those devices, including one from accessory-maker Auris called the freeDa. But their latest project is a similar attachment that brings AirPlay and DLNA streaming to those docks.
The Auris Skye is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, and connects via Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth. It lets you stream music from your iPhone, iPad touch, Android or Windows Phone and Mac or PC on your local Wi-Fi network, using either Apple’s proprietary AirPlay streaming protocol or DLNA on Android and Windows. It’s also Wi-Fi Direct enabled, so that you don’t even need to have a Wi-Fi router or network available to use it.
Their are a few advantages to using AirPlay over Bluetooth. For one, if you have other AirPlay speakers and stereo equipment in your home, you can stream to the Skye and those simultaneously from a Mac or PC. Apple also has done its best to optimize the AirPlay streaming protocol for maximum quality, so you’ll get much better sound using it vs. Bluetooth, so long as the Skye works as advertised. Plus, there’s no need to pair; the Skye should just show up in your list of available streaming devices once set up on your network. Finally, Wi-Fi range is far greater than that of Bluetooth.
Skye also doesn’t need a separate power source, as it uses the power from the dock itself, which would normally be used to charge the iOS device sitting in the cradle. The Auris team says they’ve tested it with a range of speakers already, and so far haven’t found one that doesn’t work, and they offer a control app to get you set up.
Santa Clara-based Auris already makes and ships two audio accessories, so it knows how to build product. The company previously kickstarted its Bluetooth receiver, and raised $131,911 (exceeding its $40,000) goal. It’s worth noting that some backers complained about the quality of that device in the comments for that project, but Auris has redesigned the original product, and has already exceeded its $56,000 goal for the Skye, raising $72,197.
AirPlay can be tricky to get right, though the recent incarnations of the tech in consumer products have all performed reliably, so Auris has a lot to deliver with this project and a shipping timeline of December, 2013. Hopefully the company learned some lessons from its first go-around, however, because this is a very useful accessory to have.
Following an amazing event last year, which saw Italy suddenly ignite its startup scene, TechCrunch has created the TechCrunch Italy conference in partnership with media company Populis. Next week (September 26 and 27) will see delegates descend on MAXXI Museum in Rome to unpack the startup ecosystem in Italy. As part of that, we’ll showcase the finalists in the startup competition, the winner of which will win €50,000. Grab a ticket here.
TechCrunch Italy is becoming the leading Italian event on innovation and startups, an exciting chance for Italian tech entrepreneurship and a unique opportunity to gain an international showcase and meet some of the world’s greatest luminaries of the web.
The finalists represent the best Italian startups, selected from more than 200 nominations by an advisory board of innovators, venture capitalists, journalists and well-known entrepreneurs of the digital landscape.
The finalists of the Startup Competition at TechCrunch Italy 2013 are: Aenduo, Bauzaar, Bemyeye, Fluentify.com, GiPStech, Pathflow, Sportboom and Vivocha.
The advisory board included:
Paolo Barberis (Founder, Dada & Nana Bianca)
Roberto Bonanzinga (Balderton)
Fausto Boni (360 Capital)
Mike Butcher (TechCrunch)
Max Ciociola (MusixMatch)
Luca De Biase (Nòva 24 – Agenzia Digitale)
Mauro del Rio (Buongiorno!)
Riccardo Donadon (H Farm)
Lorenzo Franchini (Italian Angels For Growth)
Massimiliano Magrini (United Ventures)
Marco Marinucci (Mind The Bridge)
Salvo Mizzi (Working Capital)
Mauro Pretolani (TLCom)
Massimo Sideri (Corriere della Sera)
The final prize , offered by Populis, will consist of a fund of €10,000 and €40,000 in media visibility on the Populis network, which includes some of the most popular online news sites in Italy, Germany and Brazil.
The two-day event will gather some of the most recognised leaders and innovators of the technology and media industries in Italy, Europe and the U.S. to give a unique insight into the big changes and trends happening in the world right now.
Speakers include: Renaud Visage, co-founder of EventBrite; John Underkoffler, Oblong founder and creator of the interface in the film Minority Report; Amelia Showalter, former Director of Digital Analytics for re-election campaign of President Obama; Michael Widenius, Co Founder and author MySql; Francesco Caio , Head of the Italian Government Innovation program “Agenda Digitale,” Steffi Czerny, founder of DLD & DLD Women; Ramon De Leon, social media visionary and international motivational speaker; Yossi Vardi and many more will meet in Rome.
“This year’s applications have unveiled great projects; we expect the next big idea to come out from TechCrunch Italy 2013,” said Luca Ascani, co-founder of Populis and co-organizer of the event. “Every startup should be able to think big and conceive a project on an international scale since the first day. In some cases this is the main limitation of entrepreneurship in our country, but such an approach is essential not to succumb in the Internet economy. Our goal is precisely to offer this kind of vision to emerging companies operating in the digital sector in Italy , and we will get it through a gathering with some of the world’s most successful Tech Stars.”
The event which will be live streamed on TechCrunch.com and will be partnered by some of the best Italian Media brands: Rainews24 , RDS, Nòva 24 – Il Sole 24 Ore, Blogo, Wired.it .
TechCrunch Italy has been realized thanks to the support of the US Embassy and some of the most influential brands in the innovation field and emerging companies in the startup scenario: DNSEE , LUISS Enlabs and United Ventures, sponsors of the event, and Illy , Moleskine , Tiscali, BizUp , Xister , Eventbrite , Tannico , Uber, Roma Startup , Startup Italia , AppsBuilder , Pathable , Getty Images, Ninja Academy , TOP- IX, Justbit as technical partners.
The Press and Event Contact is Amanda Lorenzani, Head of Communications, Populis and Co Organiser, TechCrunch Italy on Lorenzani@populis.com. Italian contact is Adriana Rava on email@example.com
Berlin will see Disrupt Europe, our major conference, arrive this October, featuring some of the best known names from the Valley and Europe. Ciarán O’Leary will be among those speaking.
Disrupt Europe will take place from October 26-29 (Hackathon on 26-27; Conference on 28-29) and there is lots more info here. Tickets can be purchased here and ‘early bird’ pricing ends this coming Monday.
Ciarán O’Leary joined Earlybird in 2009 as a Senior Associate and was promoted to Partner in January 2012. Ciarán has eight years of investment experience. Investments include Peak Games (emerging markets social gaming), 6Wunderkinder (productivity apps), Moped (private messaging), B2X Care Solutions (outsourcing platform), madvertise (mobile targeting network) and simfy (digital music distribution company).
Prior to joining Earlybird, Ciarán co-founded a startup and gathered operational experience at others. Before that he was a member of The Carlyle Group’s Buyout team. He began his career at Lazard’s mergers & acquisitions franchise. Ciarán received his Masters degree in business (focus on entrepreneurship and finance) from HHL-Leipzig Graduate School of Management. He also studied abroad at NTU Singapore and wrote his master thesis at WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management.
The phrase “made in China” is often synonymous with “cheap knockoff” in Western countries, but Bundshop’s mission is to change that perception. Based in Shanghai and named after the city’s famous waterfront commercial district, Bundshop is not only an e-commerce site, but also an agency that currently represents 50 emerging designers and artists.
Bundshop positions its online store in the same space as Gilt, Fab and TouchOfModern. Like those sites, Bundshop markets to consumers, mostly women, who are willing to pay a premium for aesthetics, but are more interested in supporting independent brands than luxury conglomerates. Most of Bundshop’s products cost between $50 to $600, with a median price of about $135. In order to compete with other e-commerce retailers, Bundshop created a logistics network that ships to 92 countries and allows most products to reach their destination within seven to 10 days for the same prices as domestic shipping. Co-founder and CMO Stephany Zoo says Bundshop’s future plans include working with investors to set up an incubator program for contemporary Chinese design and partnering with other e-commerce sites.
“The reason we are doing this is because over the past 10 years there has been a burst of creativity in China,” says Zoo. “The contemporary Chinese art market is growing ridiculously quickly. There used to be no such thing as an industrial design or graphic design department in schools, but now there are 400 design schools with 10,000 students graduating each year.”
Bundshop launched with an e-commerce site last October to take advantage of the holiday shopping rush. The startup has been cash-flow positive for the past three months, thanks in large part to its corporate gifting service. Zoo says Bundshop serendipitously discovered that business model when companies approached them before Chinese New Year in search of more interesting gifts than the standard logo mug or pen. Bundshop’s clients have included Swiss luxury watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre, BMW, Hilton and Christie’s.
“We found that it is a win-win situation all around,” said Zoo. “Designers get to associate their names with big, multinational companies, and those companies get to say we have a vested interest in the local creative community.”
Zoo says Bundshop keeps an eye out for items that put an innovative twist on techniques, shapes or materials borrowed from traditional Chinese arts and crafts.
“What we saw as a general trend in Chinese design was it had always been very outwardly Chinese, with the blue porcelain, a lot of red scrolls and intricate designs that are very traditionally ‘Chinese,’” says Zoo. “But as we move forward, more designers use Chinese influences in form or material. They will use a very traditional material like bamboo but use it to make more modern silhouettes.”
One of the designers represented by Bundshop is Zhoujie Zhang, who was trained in classical arts by his calligraphist father while growing up in rural Ningbo and studied industrial design at Central Saint Martins. Zhang’s furniture is designed with a computer algorithm and hand-folded from steel. Another label is Latitude22n, a husband-and-wife team who originally met when each thought the other had knocked off their work because their styles are so similar. Made in Jingdezhen, Latitude22n’s dishware is inspired by Song Dynasty porcelain and traditional Chinese painting.
For designers represented by its agency, Bundshop does everything from product photography and sales distribution to marketing and public relations. It holds exclusive online international distribution rights for 85 percent of its brands and sells to a network of 500 boutiques around the world (Bundshop often directs domestic customers to the designer’s own e-commerce sites).
One of the main challenges faced by independent designers in China is weak intellectual property laws, which means that they risk seeing their product copied by larger companies within weeks of its launch. Before working with a designer, Zoo says Bundshop does due diligence by making sure that there are no knock-offs in their portfolio. For example, the company checks with contacts in Jingdezhen, the historical heart of China’s ceramics industry, to make sure items are not reproductions of existing designs.
The company consults with design experts, including professors, writers and design agents, to help them select new talent. Bundshop’s designers are scouted from schools such as Beijing’s Central Academy of Fine Arts and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London and events like 100 Percent Design Shanghai. All product listings include an in-depth profile that delves into its concept and production, as well as its creator’s background.
“A lot of what we do is storytelling and narrative so Bundshop is much more a gallery than an e-commerce site,” says Zoo. “It’s important for us that our consumers are not just taking home a product, but also a story.”
Apple’s iPhone 5s and 5c are now on sale at retail and online stores around much of the world, and the general impression from consumers is one of high anticipation. In North America, lines are being reported at Apple retail locations everywhere, including what analyst and Apple watcher Gene Munster (via Mashable) calls Apple’s longest ever lineup for an iPhone device.
The line at Apple’s 5th Avenue NYC flagship store was 1,417 people long at 8 a.m. ET, according to Munster, which is 83 percent longer than the iPhone 5 line at the same time. Munster’s been keeping tallies on iPhone queue length since 2008 with the iPhone 3G, and that line was 549 people long. The next-longest after the iPhone 5s/5c was the iPhone 4, which attracted 1,300 to the flagship New York location.
Of course, Apple didn’t allow pre-orders for the iPhone 4, which is bound to drive more people to retail since they weren’t able to order early and just wait for the FedEx person to drop off their new devices. One good theory about why Apple didn’t offer pre-orders for iPhone 5s is because of supply constraints, owing to the technical challenge of building the new A7 64-bit system-on-a-chip, and the sophisticated new fingerprint scanner built into the 5s Home button.
Images and video have been coming in on social media channels from around the world showing long lines at various Apple retail locations, including the following shot from TUAW depicting an army of Apple employees preparing for the deluge:
Great glass elevator. /mr http://t.co/Y4uWRHtFHc—
(@TUAW) September 20, 2013
Canadian queues also appear to be much longer than last time around, indicating there’s a strong appetite for the iPhone 5s in that market, too:
We're over 250 deep now. #iPhone5s #EatonCenter instagram.com/p/eexvSHna21/—
Corey Herscu (@cellguru) September 20, 2013
Just under an hour and a half remains before the store doors open in San Francisco, but there’s plenty of anticipation there, too:
6:40 am line goes around the block at San Francisco Apple store. Gold iPhone is already sold out. Who woulda thought. http://t.co/1jDEjHo7ty—
moshen (@paranoidroid) September 20, 2013
All reports also seem to be echoing a common refrain of the new gold iPhone finish being the rarest and hardest to get your hands on, which is likely to do with a combination of that model being in relatively short supply to begin with, and it being attractive to buyers because it’s so different and unique from previous iPhone color options.
Apple hasn’t yet reported any numbers regarding its early iPhone pre-order amounts, but it’s almost guaranteed they’ll offer up some kind of figure of cumulative iPhone 5s/5c pre-orders after this initial launch weekend.