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Today, as the Ouya Android-based open source gaming console begins taking orders from regular consumers, we are witnessing a major milestone in how a product launch can tap Kickstarter to go all the way from concept to retail store shelves.
Just a year ago, the idea that the global launch of a consumer electronic device could be financed through incentive-based crowdfunding in much the same way that public broadcasting helps to keep its light on was still a foreign one. Actually, Ouya's accomplishment is far more impressive than what PBS and NPR stations have been doing for decades, since those networks also rely heavily on subsidies from the taxpayer-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Here's what Ouya's Julie Uhrman told the Wall Street Journal about the plans:
The presale is going to be on dot com and we plan on rolling out in physical locations. March is the unveiling, when Kickstarter backers get their units and OUYA will be live for all our supporters. In April we will be delivering units from people purchasing, and June will be the official launch.
Those physical locations Uhrman mentioned so far include big names like Target, Best Buy and GameStop.
Ouya so far has succeeded in meeting its own deadlines for product delivery to Kickstarter backers, a spot where many others -- most notably the record-setting Pebble Watch -- have faltered. The next few months will reveal if Ouya's accomplishments in keeping promises to its crowdfunders will carry over into the much wider world of the retail marketplace.
- Eric Mack is Managing Editor for Crowdsourcing.org. He has covered business, technology and politics for more than a decade for major outlets including CNET, CBS, AOL, NPR, Wired, and the New York Times. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter and Google+. Also be sure to follow Crowdsourcing.org on Twitter and join our Crowdsourcing community on Google+.