Like me, I know a couple European readers pledged the Omate TrueSmart 2.0 smartwatch after I wrote about it first time back in August and after the recent Omate announcement of further shipping delays, I received some feedback from some readers which - well let's say it this way - indicated "a frustration". Many of you have pledged for the 2100 MHz UMTS "Omate TrueSmart DEVELOPERS Edition" which was said to deliver "in October (last year) - before anyone else". However, Omate said in its latest update that it discovered some quality issues with this version (after they've upgraded each backer to the 1GB RAM / 8 GB flash memory version) which causes - also thanks to Chinese New Year - even further shipping delays.
Furthermore I was made aware that a kind of Omate TrueSmart is on sale in Germany (as well as other countries) which is called "Simvalley MOBILE 1.5"-Smartwatch AW-420.RX". And indeed, this Simvalley version looks pretty much like the early Kickstarter samples Omate used when it started its campaign. As a matter of fact, also for me it looked like Omate was fulfilling its commercial deliveries to Simvalley first while backers were left alone. Therefore I decided to reach out to Laurent Le Pen, CEO of Omate and Nick NM Yap, Head of the Omate media team, to ask them if I was right or what's happening here and we had a great and open discussion (thanks guys for the feedback) where Laurent and Nick gave me some insights of the current status and issues and why the Simvalley AW-420.RX isn't the Omate TrueSmart 2.0.
"It is not a case of using Kickstarter money to finance the production of units for business partners", Nick NM Yap, Head of Omate Media Team
In the discussion, Nick explained that "the Omate TrueSmart is the new model with improved features while the Pearl Simvalley is a previous model which are used for delivering to other brands" and continued that "it's a like Google Nexus (which) is always the new "reference" model that has new features others do not have. Therefore the reason for the delayed shipment is exactly these new features, unexpected issues with the new design and new improvements." Laurent added that Omate "drastically upgraded the hardware and mechanical design specs along with a unique software ecosystem that (is) called OUI 2.0" while Omate's "licensee are all authorized to use the term OUI 1.0 and Omate User Interface 1.0 publically".
"As for mass production development, backers are the top priority but we prefer delaying a few more weeks rather than facing a massive return rate.", Laurent Le Pen, CEO Omate
So far so good and this explains that whatever similar looking smartwatch we see in the market, it's not the Omate TrueSmart 2.0 which you (and I) have backed. But what exactly does it mean for the backers which are eagerly awaiting the shipment? Well, Laurent assured that "backers are the top priority and (Omate) will be shipping the 1 GB + 8 GB 1900 MHz (US) this weekend"; Nick added that "even with the delays, backers are still the world's first to receive the 1 GB + 8 GB Extreme Edition TrueSmart"; even if European 1 GB + 8 GB 2100 MHz backers will be indeed the last - unfortunately. But I was told that "production of the 2100 MHz version is underway", even if Chinese New Year will interrupt it (which is only fair since nobody in Europe is really working between Christmas and New Year as well).
Last but not least, Nick made a fair and valid point: "The reason for the delayed shipment are unexpected issues with the new design and new improvements. So each time after a production batch has been scheduled, we discover some flaws that need to be improved. Actually in my many years of experience in product development, that's quite common. The difference being that now with Kickstarter, this process is open with users waiting for the units. While in a traditional development process, the product only hits the retail shelves after several round of such improvements which are behind the scenes and not in the public eye."
That's definitely something I can underline from my own experience and previous work as a product- and project manager in the telecommunications industry. That's exactly the same reason why we will see many new smartphones announced next month at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which will only make it to market later in summer. Product and production planning is a difficult process and sometimes it takes longer than expected or foreseen; unfortunately it hit this time some Kickstarter backers but I'm confident now that we all will get our TrueSmart 2.0 smartwatches as fast as possible. Omate already proved its reliability by shipping all the 512 MB RAM versions which most backer should have already received.
Cheers ~ Arne