There’s a lot of talk about what people are calling “the internet of things.” The idea is that all your household appliances will be connected to the internet so that you can interact with your toaster from anywhere in the world and Russian hackers can tell Wikileaks how many bottles of Yoo-hoo pass through your refrigerator on a given week.
I was surprised at the response I received on on Facebook when I asked who really needs a crockpot with WiFi. I love tech gadgets but this all seems unnecessary to me. What may be the most unnecessary internet enabled appliance I’ve seen to date though is the “Juicero.”
Juicero is a juicer that squeezes juice from bags of pre-packaged produce sold by the same heavily bankrolled Silicon Valley startup who makes the $400 WiFi enabled squeezer.
One of the most lavishly funded gadget startups in Silicon Valley last year was Juicero Inc. It makes a juice machine. The product was an unlikely pick for top technology investors, but they were drawn to the idea of an internet-connected device that transforms single-serving packets of chopped fruits and vegetables into a refreshing and healthy beverage.
Why would technology investors be drawn to this? Why would anyone for that matter?
Doug Evans, the company’s founder, would compare himself with Steve Jobs in his pursuit of juicing perfection.
That might be true if he’s referring specifically to that time Steve Jobs gave us the Apple Newton. (The last time I snarked on the Apple Newton I got hate mail from Newton enthusiasts. They exist. I think they’re some sort of cult.)
He declared that his juice press wields four tons of force—“enough to lift two Teslas,” he said. Google’s venture capital arm and other backers poured about $120 million into the startup. Juicero sells the machine for $400, plus the cost of individual juice packs delivered weekly. Tech blogs have dubbed it a “Keurig for juice.”
You can call it the “Keurig for juice” if you want but it’s not an accurate analogy unless you can squeeze a hot mug of coffee from a K-cup with your bare hands.
But after the product hit the market, some investors were surprised to discover a much cheaper alternative: You can squeeze the Juicero bags with your bare hands. Two backers said the final device was bulkier than what was originally pitched and that they were puzzled to find that customers could achieve similar results without it. Bloomberg performed its own press test, pitting a Juicero machine against a reporter’s grip. The experiment found that squeezing the bag yields nearly the same amount of juice just as quickly—and in some cases, faster—than using the device.
Yep, the high tech two Tesla lifting gizmo is completely unnecessary to the juice making process. Bloomberg even did their own test.
Juicero declined to comment. A person close to the company said Juicero is aware the packs can be squeezed by hand but that most people would prefer to use the machine because the process is more consistent and less messy. The device also reads a QR code printed on the back of each produce pack and checks the source against an online database to ensure the contents haven’t expired or been recalled, the person said.
From that video I don’t see hand squeezing as being particularly messy, plus it has the added benefit of not having a $400 objet d’art taking up valuable counter space where you could be keeping something more useful, like your Bluetooth compatible essential oil diffuser. But kudos for that QR code reader checking the expiration date. Reading that off the package is such a chore. Leave that sort of Luddite foolishness to the Amish, am I right?
Keep in mind that this device is completely unnecessary and watch this tutorial video. Without laughing.
That is so much more convenient than, say, opening a bottle, and you get to deal with composting the residuals. What fun.
The creator of Juicero is something of a luminary in the world of juicing.
Albert Burneko at The Concourse enjoyed himself immensely picking out various fun snippets from the Bloomberg article, but that line of text above is one of the most hilarious sentences I’ve ever seen. It’s like something that should be on Wile E. Coyote’s business card. “Super Genius and Juicing Luminary.”
In 2002, Evans helped start Organic Avenue, a chain of juice bars selling cold-press concoctions in glass jars. The New York franchise drew rave reviews from the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow.
If you’ve come this far you knew there had to be some Gwyneth Paltrow in this story somewhere. She’s probably already selling this boat anchor on GOOP. (I wonder if her vajayjay steamer is connected to the web. I hope not.)
Investors started balking once it became clear the technology they were paying for was completely useless. I guess, the next phase of development will be to unnecessarily make the bags harder to squeeze by hand.
With a little more work, Juicero can take its place among other amazing products.
The Ford Pinto, New Coke, Microsoft Bob, Heinz Purple Ketchup, Zima….