The lucrative potential of Sphero's BB-8

Alain-Patrick Umucyo By Alain-Patrick Umucyo, 23rd Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Analysis

“This is the beginning of a whole new category of consumer products. You can own a piece of the movie, have it in your home, and relive an experience that is authentic to the entertainment on the screen"(1).

“Rob Maigret, Sphero's chief creative officer”(2) may have sounded as no more than someone wanting to sell his product. But now, the first owners of Sphero's BB-8 have shared online their experience and it appears indeed that the robot is inducing a "whole new" type of interactions .(3)

1 The advantageous position of Sphero

Sphero's BB-8 is the official consumer-friendly replica of the “Astromech Droid”(4) robot which will debut in the coming Star Wars : Episode VII The Force Awakens. “It has a ball shaped body and a domed head that resembles that of the R2 series droids, whose most popular unit is R2-D2.”(5)

The next instalment in the Star Wars saga has yet to be watched but BB-8 is already a hit. “He even has his very own dedicated Twitter emoji that displays whenever you use the hashtag #BB8.”(6) As an emoji, BB-8 has thus already entered the English lexicon. Indeed, in 2015, “for the first time ever, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is” an emoji.(7) The enthusiasm surrounding BB-8 will surely attract speculators, people who will “have no use value for”(8) the robot but will sense the lucrative opportunity to bet on the commercial success.

The forthcoming Episode VII movie has already garnered a lot of anticipation. The first trailers showcase a well-managed association between the vintage feeling of the episodes IV to VI and a complete revival of the saga. BB-8 embodies that betterment ; “fans have been thrilled to hear from director JJ Abrams that for the first time, the Star Wars franchise has made use of a real robotic machine rather than a man in a robot suit, an advanced puppet or just using special effects.”(9)

BB-8 is thus already a milestone in the history of the Star Wars franchise. Its existence as an actual robotic machine is due to the work of Sphero which “was one of ten start-ups funded by Disney's first accelerator program in 2014. Disney CEO Bob Iger himself was Sphero's mentor inside the company. When he learnt about the filmmakers trying to build a rolling droid, he knew the right people for the job.”(10) The Disney-backed startup had indeed already proven its abilities by introducing an “app-enabled robotic ball”(11) which appears today as the perfect prototype of BB-8's “ball shaped body”(12).

2 The favourable environment for Sphero's BB-8

As the original builder of the movie character BB-8, Sphero has an undisputed advantage regarding the authenticity of the commercial robot BB-8. The first sales of the company confirmed that competitive advantage. “150,000 to 200,000 BB-8s sold out shortly after they were released on 'Force Friday'”(13), 4 September 2015. Ever since, the popularity has not dropped a bit. As of 14 October 2015, the expected delivery date of Sphero's BB-8, when it is ordered via the company's website, is in November 2015.

2 weeks, at least, before receiving a product ordered via the Internet seems exaggerated in an e-business era dominated by the likes of Amazon. This situation hints at the “phenomenal”(14) demand for Sphero's BB-8. And when the demand surpasses the supply then prices rise. That rise is notable on the French market.(15)

As envisaged by Lance Ulanoff in a review of Sphero's BB-8, it seems that even at around 170€, the droid robot “will be the biggest toy hit of the holidays.”(16)

The present article was first published in the newsletter 'La Nouvelle Union'

Sources

(1)RUSSON Mary-Ann. Star Wars BB8 robot was built by Sphero and you can get one this Christmas . 22 April 2015. International Business Times. <http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/star-wars-bb8-robot-was-built-by-sphero-you-can-get-one-this-christmas-1497858> accessed 14 October 2015

(2)Ibidem

(3)INSTAGRAM. #bb8 . Instagram. <https://instagram.com/explore/tags/bb8/> accessed 10 October 2015

(4)BB-8 . Star Wars. <http://www.starwars.com/databank/bb-8> accessed 10 October 2015

(5)SANCHEZ Carlos & GERLADO Emilio. How does BB-8 work ? - Introducing BB-8 . How BB-8 Works. <http://www.howbb8works.com/> accessed 06 October 2015

(6)RUSSON Mary-Ann. Star Wars BB8 robot was built by Sphero and you can get one this Christmas . 22 April 2015. International Business Times. <http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/star-wars-bb8-robot-was-built-by-sphero-you-can-get-one-this-christmas-1497858> accessed 10 October 2015

(7)OXFORD DICTIONARIES. Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2015 is… . 16 November 2015. Oxford Dictionaries. <http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2015/11/word-of-the-year-2015-emoji> accessed 23 November 2015

(8)GARRATT Rod & TRÖGER Thomas. Speculation in standard auctions with resale . Econometrica 74 (2006) 753-769. online supplement. <https://thomasetroger.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/speculation-in-standard-auctions-with-resale.pdf> accessed 06 October 2015

(9)RUSSON Mary-Ann. Star Wars BB8 robot was built by Sphero and you can get one this Christmas . 22 April 2015. International Business Times. <http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/star-wars-bb8-robot-was-built-by-sphero-you-can-get-one-this-christmas-1497858> accessed 10 October 2015

(10)SANCHEZ Carlos & GERLADO Emilio. How does BB-8 work ? - Technology . How BB-8 Works. <http://www.howbb8works.com/> accessed 06 October 2015

(11)Sphero . Sphero. <http://www.sphero.com/sphero> accessed 14 October 2015

(12)SANCHEZ Carlos & GERLADO Emilio. How does BB-8 work ? - Introducing BB-8 . How BB-8 Works. <http://www.howbb8works.com/> accessed 06 October 2015

(13)RODRIGUEZ Ashley. How the Startup Behind the Hottest New 'Star Wars' Toy Preps for the Holidays . 11 September 2015. Ad Age. <http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/startup-bb-8-prepping-holidays/300312/> accessed 07 October 2015

(14)SPHERO. “ The response to BB-8 by Sphero has been phenomenal ...” . 16 September 2015. Facebook. <https://www.facebook.com/GoSphero/photos/a.241461599213228.80130.227903283902393/1250467378312640/?type=1&theater> accessed 14 October 2015

(15)UMUCYO Alain-Patrick. BB-8 Price Index . 14 October 2015. Pinterest. <https://www.pinterest.com/alainpatricku/bb-8-price-index/> accessed 14 October 2015

(16)ULANOFF Lance. Star Wars BB-8 by Sphero is the best holiday toy of the season . 19 September 2015. Mashable. <http://mashable.com/2015/09/19/star-wars-bb-8-sphero-review/#stDT9UjCiaqd> accessed 07 October 2015

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