I cover a lot of Kickstarter projects on this site, simply because it’s one of the last places on Earth where any innovation is happening in terms of gadget accessories. I normally post everything that has some merit to it (with the exception of software), which also means that there’s a lot of things I simply find not deserving of a posting – either because it’s a direct ripoff of an existing product, not very interesting or innovative, or simply ridiculously stupid. One of the projects you never read about on this site is the SnapStylus. It’s a magnetic stylus designed to snap onto the side of an iPad 2 (or the back of an iPad 1, according to the video), which is pretty neat. Unfortunately, the idea isn’t new, and was first thought of by the Maglus people. Also unlike the Maglus, the SnapStylus’ design and $10 price tag set off some serious alarms in my head when I first saw it, thinking that it was just a Chinese OEM stylus retrofitted with some even cheaper magnets.
Now I kinda wish I had done something when I had the chance, as the SnapStylus has been funded, produced, and shipped to the pledgers – and they’re not happy. It seems that the Chinese OEM theory was rather spot on and “quality issues” doesn’t even begin to describe what people are reporting in the comments. While some are reporting a crooked stylus tip, the main complant is that the magnets don’t work at all or don’t work well enough. People also claim that the stylus is identical to those sold on cheap Chinese online stores and the theory that this is a refitted product is spreading like wildfire in the comment section.
As if that wasn’t enough, the guy behind the project also has two other projects on Kickstarter that follow the same model of being slightly modified existing products. The first was a failed iPad backpack that essentially took an off-the-shelf backpack and added a window, and the other is a still-in-progress “magnetic key holder” that some of the SnapStylus backers have pointed out looks a lot like a magnetic knife holder.
Whether or not this truly is a scam is yet to be sorted out, but it’s a rather unfortunate situation either way. Kickstarter is great for getting projects funded and it generally has a built in idiot proofing by requiring a product idea to be popular to succeed, but that doesn’t mean stuff like this can’t happen. It’ll be interesting to see how both the project owner, Kickstarter and Amazon (which handles payment) acts with regards to disgruntled customers in this case, as that will be an indication of what sort of treatment one can expect if other projects go south in the future.
In the mean time, the Maglus is still on track to be released soon despite not being funded through the Kickstarter-like site it originally appeared on. I still think a magnetic stylus is a good idea, and one that is custom designed and built from scratch is a lot less likely to be a epic failure than something that looked like a OEM stylus, was priced like a OEM stylus, and was sent to backers only a month after funding for its production was complete.