Thursday, October 20, 2016

How NOT to market "Smart Guns"

German arms maker Armatix to release second smart gun in U.S. | Computerworld:

Yes, it's another article about how great Smart Gun Technology is.

The only problem is, nobody wants to buy them.
Even as new standards are being considered and proposed, nobody wants to buy them anyway.

This article mentions the 'problems' the makers  (Armatix) are having, trying to get someone to BUY their product.  But in the text, it's the bad things about Smart Guns that jump out at the reader.

(1) Useless Caliber

German firearms manufacturer Armatix LLC is planning to release its second smart gun in the U.S. next year after sales of its first model -- the .22 caliber iP1 -- were quashed by pressure from some gun owners and gun rights advocates who saw it as a threat to Second Amendment freedoms.
There's not a lot of people who are looking for a teeny .22LR pistol.   So maybe it is a good idea to build one with an actual usable caliber.

Oh, and BTW?  Nobody likes RFD which might conceivably be over-ridden by "outside agencies"!

Armatix finally figured this one out all by themselves:
 Unlike the iP1, which used RFID technology, the new iP9 9mm semi-automatic pistol will have a fingerprint reader. The iP9 will be available in mid-2017, according to Wolfgang Tweraser, CEO and president of Armatix LLC.
Good for you.  You're making a 9mm .. which is still (in the opinion of 'old school' pistol owners, a "Poodle Shooter".  But it's a step in the right direction.

(2) Overpriced!

So, why would someone want to pay over $1,000 for a tiny pistol?

The iP9 is expected to retail for about the same suggested retail price as the iP1 -- $1,365, which is more than twice the price of many conventional 9mm semi-automatic pistols. While smart gun technology will always bring with it a price premium, Tweraser said that's to be expected, and he compared it to a Tesla electric car.
Yes, well ... the advantage of electric cars is that they will probably, in the long run, save money because electricity is cheaper than gasoline.   But that's a fallacious comparison because you'll never get a return for your dollar by buying a 'Smart Gun'.

(3) Arrogant marketing!

But the manufacturer thinks the introductory price is reasonable:
"Always the latest technology comes with a higher price tag. As you make hundreds and thousands of units, then the price will change also," Tweraser said. "We're not going to replace regular guns because of the price point also."
And you wonder why you can't sell your guns in America?   You are so cocksure in the value of your product you ignore the fact that you have to build a market almost before you build the product.

You're not doing that.

Hell, you can't even find dealers!

When your firearms are competitively price, you will at least get a few people to buy the gun.   Maybe they will try it, discover that it's worth more than they paid for it, and tell their friends.

 You're not going to replace regular guns until you can COMPETE with regular guns!  Your marketing strategy today ... sucks.   Today, you can't afford to  "make hundreds and thousands of units";  when you start SELLING "hundreds and thousands of units", that's when you can start jacking up the price.   It's also called "The Law Of Supply And Demand".  Right now, you have too much supply because you have no demand for your product.

(4) Identify, and Sell to  your market

Who buys guns?

Hunters, Home & Personal Defense folks, plinkers, competition shooters, collectors, military and police, Governments, new firearms owners .. that's the potential market.

This product appeals Plinkers and New Firearms Owners in the .22 caliber configuration.  Not a big market for a small pistol which costs almost $1,400.

In the 9mm caliber, you MIGHT get some "Home & Personal Defense" people interested.

Hunters, Competition Shooters, military & police, they're not going to ... I think the expression is "I wouldn't touch that with YOUR dick!"   So, your market is probably limited to Home & Personal Defense buyers.

That's a very SMALL niche market, especially since the sub-set of that group will probably be "New Gun Owners", and they need to be romanced carefully.

You're doing okay with emphasizing how SAFE your gun is, and probably many most buyers are  will be young homeowners with children in the house.

Your niche just became much smaller.

Now all need to do to sell to a sustainable market (hopefully, more than 100 a month, nationwide) is to get them into the hands of this group, and let them do your marketing for you.

Did I mention  young, homeowners, children?

They're dealing with bloated mortgages and childrens' college trust funds, and you want to sell them a pistol for $1400 (plus plus ... license, taxes, permits, etc.)  Thank Goodness you brought it out in 9mm, which at least justifies some of the cost.

New Jersey!
New Jersey was the 11th of the original 13 colonies.

And it was the first in America to pass a state law that, as soon as (well, 3 years after) a "Smart Gun" became available for civilian purchase an America, only "Smart Guns" would be eligible for purchase in the state.

Unfortunately, the ARMITIX was the only gun in America that met the criteria, so after it came on the market the entire state of NJ was locked into selling only YOUR firearm ... what a great marketing moment for you!

Too bad your version was untrusted, and the available make/model/caliber was so limited, because suddenly you started a whole new revolution.  

Dealers who attempted to retail your gun were threatened because of the precedent which was set by ONE idiotic NJ Salon, and ONE underfunded manufacturer  (cough *Armitix*) was unable to meet the demand, provide a sufficiently wide range of desireable make/model/caliber, and the world came to an end until the NJ Governor nixed the whole damn thing.

Not a great publicity moment for Armitix.

So, I am guessing that the corporate gurus in Armitix are trying to figure a way to dig out of this black hole.

Here are a few suggestions, if you wish to continue making a "Smart Gun":

  • make it in many calibers
  • find a better platform
  • get it tested AND ACCEPTED by LEO and military ... because if they won't trust their life to it, no civilian is going to trust their life to it in a self-defense situation
  • find a price that will allow you to get it on the market, even if you have to take a loss
  • about New Jersey ... sorry about that.  You lose.
Hope you have a large number of investors with very deep pockets, because you need to rethink your concept, design, marketing, vision and leadership

And after that?  

You're still screwed.

You're building a product which just isn't good  enough  to meet a market which just isn't big enough to justify the effort.
And very few people who are BUYING guns wants it, anyway.  They don't trust it.
Only state legislators want it, and they're all a bunch of pusillanimous idiots that nobody listens too!

"Maybe in six or seven years" ... (as John Wayne said to Ben Johnson in "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon").


Mark said...

If they can steal my identity or hack my computer or other such mayhem, what stops them from disabling my "smart" gun?

Anonymous said...

Nevertheless, smart guns will be the government mandated wave of the future. The advantage of the .22RF caliber is that it is less deadly than the larger more potent calibers.

Jerry The Geek said...

anonymous, you say that like it's "A Good Thing".
I understand satire, and I understand cynicism, but I'd rather be clear about the point of advantage when someone is shooting at you and you are limited by a poodle-shooter as your personal self defence Tool.

Well, perhaps you are comfortable with a .22 caliber "smart gun". But when a state declares that you MUST purchase/use an inferior tool to defend self, family, home ... the joke is on the people who elected that NJ Idiot.