Interview: Gomadic Accessories

by PocketGoddess on June 9, 2006

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Could you share a little about how your company got started?
Gomadic started in Sept of 2000 while I was working for an Internet Start-up. In that role it was easy to see the the influence that shifting trends had on cyber-culture and it followed that they would have a similar impact on a real-world technology culture where products were quickly becoming disposable. There was simply no way for end users to stay current in the context of all of the newer items that slick marketers make us want–and need to sell to stay in business.
For example, PDAs at that time were becoming more powerful with capabilities that extended beyond simple calendar/contact and task organization (Compaq had just introduced the powerful iPAQ handheld which had lots of internet capable features). Being constantly on the move it wasn’t such a jump to see how these newer products would make life easier. The problem was that the output for new tech was nearly endless when most people’s means are finite. Once we recognized this disparity our niche became clear.
But, from a personal, more selfish, standpoint, my initial goal was simple: to be able to link my new iPAQ to my Motorola Startac cell phone in order to dial out to my Internet provider and have internet access on the road. That initial product line (the ComCube) really took off, and laid the foundation for Gomadic and set a platform for us to continue to innovate and design cool accessories for nomadic users.
How did you come up with the idea for your TipExchange technology? I’m curious to see if there’s a “junk drawer” full of device chargers somewhere in the story. . .
The charger space was very crowded and static and Gomadic was looking for a way to providing a nice splash in to the fray. It seemed wasteful for consumers to have to pay exorbitant prices for new accessories (usually consisting of a car charger, wall charger and USB cable) each time they upgraded their mobile devices (ie. Mobile phone, PDA, mp3 player, etc). Our strategy was to build a higher quality / higher output charger (our chargers are usually twice as powerful as most other models) that could easily be upgraded and doubled-up with the various mobile devices saving the consumer both money and space. The result was our TipExchange product line which is continuing to grow each month and now supports over 1200 different mobile devices!
So I guess our plan was to eliminate the need for a junk drawer altogether, as powerful as that image of the fatigued scientist asleep among his many calculations may be or should I say Iron Man amid the tangle of wires and circuitry that made his upgradeable armor look more modern as the years went by.
Why are separate charging and syncing tips required for some devices, such as Apple’s iPod? Can you explain a bit more about that, and let us know if you’re planning to integrate those two functions in some later product?
Unfortunately, some of the newer devices use various resistor ID’s within the connector which helps identify the accessory as a charger or a data cable. With these type of devices, you can not have one tip that does both functions.
Your products are of exceptional quality, especially the retractable sync cable–how do you keep your prices so competitive?
The first step is for us to design the products in house, where we have complete control over the quality and reliability of the components that are being used. By controlling the design, and keeping in close contact with the production team, we are able to maximize efficiency and minimize certain variables that drive up costs. Our mission is to provide affordable solutions to today’s nomadic professionals and to remain true to our objectives we keep a close eye on every aspect of the production process. In other words, you might say we sleep where we work.
How do you develop new products? Do you take suggestions from users, or do you have a “master plan” for where Gomadic’s product offerings are headed?
Our product roadmap is largely drawn by input from our customers. When customers request support for new mobile devices which we do not currently offer, we do a quick feasibility study to make sure that their products will be compatible with our system (ie. Voltage requirements will work within our charging units limits, etc). If the feasibility results are promising and if there is a market for the new device, we often can have a new tip released and in stock within 3-4 weeks! Currently we are continuing to add support for additional models of mobile phones, PDAs and mp3 players.
Any chance I can get you to share a sneak peek of your upcoming products? I’m anxiously awaiting a Nintendo DS Lite adapter myself, and I’m sure that your other customers have specific requests as well.
Certainly. We are currently evaluating different bluetooth technologies to release our own bluetooth headset. Additionally, we plan on offering a “charging station,” which will be a desktop charging stand for up to four devices that is based on our current tip exchange concept. Of course, we are currently prototyping a new Nintendo DS tip and hope to have it out within the next 30 days or so.
That desktop charging station sounds especially cool–if you need any beta testers, be sure to let me know! Thanks again for talking with me. I’m looking forward to all of your new products.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: