After yesterday’s news that Pleo may get resurrected
to some extent, it might be worth having a look back at just what
happened to Ugobe. As shockingly entertaining as it might have been,
Pleos weren’t systematically destroyed by Combots…
Rather, it was a more banal combination of factors. Ugobe’s chief
technology officer, John Sosoka, gave a lecture at Stanford a few weeks
ago entitled “The Rise and Fall of a Companion Robot: Lessons Learned from Pleo.” You can watch it in its entirety here.
The talk is 40 minutes long followed by questions, but here’s the
nutshell… Firstly, the economic collapse was obviously the main
problem. Pleo is a luxury item, and an expensive one at that. But
that’s the other part of it: nobody, Ugobe included, was really sure
what they had with Pleo. It was kind of a toy, kind of a pet, and kind
of a robot. Any way they tried to spin it, it was hard to market,
especially for the amount that it cost.
Speaking of, Pleo is still available on Amazon, and the price has dropped to about $150.
That’s only $10 more than Pleo actually costs to manufacture (the
wholesale price was $195), according to Sosoka, so it’s a pretty good