I wanted to spend a few minutes talking about why the Medis power pack will be a non starter. It isnt becuase of the technology. Its because of the market.
When looking at a new company to invest in, it is important to look at the technology (or the viability of the product if it doesnt require new technology), the market, and the managment.
We previously looked at the technology (see prior post) and found that it is not better than the incumbent alkaline battery technology. It is difficult to know about the managment of anycompany if you do not know the people personally (unless they have a history with other public companies). In this case, we are talking about a company that has been trying to introduce new technologies for 15 years, unsuccessfully.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. There are TONS of R&D companies around that go from technology to technology without focusing on any in particular. Medis however has now spent tens of millions of dollars developing their power pack and claims it will be on the markets in the beginning of 2007. So how will it do? Lets Look.
I found a number of charger products on the market today. I also can compare then to the 6xAAPP I made in the previous post. These products are:
the 6xAAPP (not a product, i made it)
The Medis Power Pack
There are three main groups here. Emergency chargers that provide very little talk time, these are the Turbocharge and the Cellboost. Then there are the energy camels that last a long time like the Mfuel and the Zap device. These provide long discharge times and can be recharged. Then there are the products in between. Im not sure what market they are targeting, as we will see.
Im sure there are other devices on the market. This is what I was able to find. To be clear: I have not tested ANY of these expect the one i made. All my data following is based on the manufacturers claims. So there is a large source of error here, for example the turbo charge says it can provide 2 hours of talk time from a single AA battery. Seems pretty incredible. Someone on the Medis message board claimed that a turbo charge was tested and only provided 22 minutes of talk time (for me its hearsay). However these two sites claim pretty good performance from a cellboost and a Clipper device. So take my data here with however many grains of salt you give to a manufacturer.
Here is the raw data (click to make larger)
Using this data I extrapolated cost vs run time. For example, the 6xAAPP cost for the first run would be about 10 bucks including batteries. But the second run would only cost $3.60 more becuase only the batteries would have to be changed. Conversely, a Cellboost only costs 6 dollars to start, but another 6 dollars for the next one.
I did my best to get the right data here. I had to infer some of it based on lithium ion data from say ultralife to extract energy density data and apply to the big devices. So until I see some real test data, this is what we have to go with.
So here we go:
The X-axis is total run time in hours. I went to 10,000 hours becuase the Zap and Mfuel can be recharged 500 times which leads to about 10-20K hours of use.
Its pretty clear that if you plan on using external chargers for many hours the CellBoost is not an economical choice. It really is best if you are in an emergency, and only very rarely. The high rechargables are only economical if you plan on using them for their whole life. Its the plethora of other devices that are interesting.
While the 6xAAPP scores the best over time for the middle range, this product doesnt actually exist. The closest the the Clipper which only uses 4 AAA batteries, so its initial energy is smaller and requires a new set of batteries faster.
The initial price of the turbo charge makes it not a good choice unless you use it often.
The two interesting things that really make me beleive that Medis has it all wrong is:
1) There is no point on this chart where the medis pack is the compelling choice
2) The manufacturer of instant-power device (which truly scores best here), has stopped making these becuase the market couldnt support it. This company was Electric Fuel. It appears that someone still sells these devices though, but i dont know if they are still being manufactured.
It appears that in order for medis to have a compelling product they will have to bring down the initial cost of their device and make it refillable, with the refill charges costing less than 3 dollars.
I expect that CellBoost and Turbocharge will still outsell the medis device (and even the 6xAAPP device if it were real) because they are so small and convenient to use. They are light weight and install directly to the phone.
Well thats my rant for the day. I'll be happy to answer any questions or comments about this data.
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