The Little Juicer That Couldn't
You have probably already heard the tale of the very expensive, useless juicer that does nothing that you can't do just as well, or perhaps faster, with your own two hands. "Juicero" quickly became the laughingstock of the whole internet and perhaps deservedly: The device, which went on the market for $699 but has now reduced its price to $399, is a hilarious example of Silicon Valley at its silliest and most absurd.
Despite the flop, Bolt venture capital firm founder Ben Einstein dissembled the Juicero and found that the machine is actually an "incredibly complicated piece of engineering." Here's how, precisely, it went so wrong and got so pricey:
1. The Juicero made things way, way more complicated than they needed to be. The door-locking mechanism, for example, consisted of more than two dozen parts. "Of the hundreds of consumer products I've taken apart over the years, this is easily among the top 5 percent on the complexity scale," Einstein noted.
2. At least Juicero wasn't lying when it said it was good at squeezing. "Juicero's juicer really does appear to be capable of putting out the kind of strong, controlled force the company promised it would use to squeeze the juice out of fruits and vegetables," The Verge writes. But: "On the other hand, Juicero put a ton of money and effort into something that could have been accomplished much cheaper if it had been willing to accept a less precise squeeze — say, something similar to what's accomplished by hand."
3. And about those costs … "Most hardware startups avoid machined parts as much as possible because the cost doesn't decline much as production volumes increase," Einstein wrote. Juicero has eight.
4. That's not to mention the plastics. "This one uses an expensive process called overmolding with a special kind of injection molding press that takes two separate hard plastic parts and molds them together with a softer, rubber-like polymer to make a single 'part.'" One spunky red doodad Einstein displays probably costs between $4 and $6. And that's just for one tiny piece.
Read Einstein's entire breakdown (with pictures and helpful arrows) here.