Here's an unexpected one: Just two days ago the Pono went live on Kickstarter, and within 24 hours quickly smashed through its $800,000 target at a pledging rate of nearly $100,000 per hour. As of this morning the rate has slowed somewhat, but it had still hit $2.4 million at press time.
More amazing is what the Pono is. It's a freaking MP3 player. So why, when we all have smartphones that play music, has this been able to succeed 13 years after the iPod was introduced? Well, here's why:
What is most interesting about the Pono is that it addresses the user experience in a way many objects and technology today do not. In some sense we have been moving backwards as a society. A landline phone call used to be a somewhat intimate experience, where you could hear even the slightest changes in infleciton in someone's voice. Today with the lousy voice quality of a cell phone, I struggle just to hear every word. Music quality has also gone way down, where even a 256kbps file cannot convey the fidelity an audiophile would prefer. By sticking with the FLAC format which contains anywhere from six to 30 times the "resolution" of an MP3, the Pono moves us forward with technology, delivering a far richer spectrum of audio.
And by taking a page from Apple's book and setting up a music ecosystem, whereby users can download music from a central location, the Pono aims to provide the ease-of-use we've all become accustomed to with iTunes.
Interestingly enough PonoMusic, the company behind the Pono, was founded by Neil Young.
The early-adopter $200 units are all gone, but there are still $300 ones left. Music lovers can pledge here.