Sony Uses Crowdfunding to Determine Interest in New E-Watch


Sony has recently been using crowdfunding to determine interest in their new e-watch. By testing the waters using a different name, they discovered the interest in their new electronic ink technology is a reality. Although there is no official release date for the e-watch, consumers can look forward to more information coming in early 2015.

Over the last few months, Sony has been developing new products that are more fashionable. The first presented is a watch that uses electronic paper. The face and wristband of the e-watch change when it moves. It requires less power than many of the smartphones and tablets that are available.

As a large corporation, Sony does not need to the funds to produce this new technology. The decision to use a crowdfunding site was solely to determine whether their product would have any interest. They also decided to omit the Sony name to garner more genuine results.

Sony turned to the public using the Japanese crowdfunding site, Makuake. Instead of being listed as a Sony product, they listed the e-watch under a different name, Fashion Entertainments and labeled their watch as the FES watch. They received a large level of interest in this new technology.

The FES watch has received donations in excess of 3.5 million yen, or $30,000 U.S. This amount is significantly higher than their goal of 2 million yen, They had 150 supporters who donated, and all were told they would receive the FES watch sometime in May, when it is rumored to be finished.

Crowdfunding is relatively new concept that allows a person or group to collect money in smaller amounts from a larger pool of people. The benefit to this new practice is that it offers entrepreneurs the chance to present their idea on a global platform.

Although the business model for “crowdfunding” has existed since the 17th century, it wasn’t until 2003 that crowdfunding reached the internet and became global. In 2013, the crowdfunding industry rose to over $5.1 billion.

Sites like Kickstarter and Artistshare offer people the opportunity to present their idea to a larger pool of interested potential investors. A riveting message, a list of specs or project outline, and some bonus rewards are all it takes to capture the right donors.

Movies, books, music and new technology are a few of the categories of projects that can be found on crowdfunding sites. Keeping their real brand a secret, Sony was able to use crowdfunding as a research tool to determine what type of interest there would be in their new e-watch.

Sony is not the first company to try their hand at “techy wearables.” Apple and Samsung have both released their own versions of the smart watch recently (Apple’s has been announced and will go on sale early next year). The FES watch is simple in design and function and there are claims that it looks less flashy than the Apple and Samsung counterparts.

For research purposes, Sony had the right idea when they secretly decided crowdfunding would be a good way to determine interest in their new e-watch. By using a Japanese crowdfunding site and keeping the Sony name hidden, Sony was able to gauge what the real interest would be in the FES watch.

By Kerri Cushna


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