An update on Susuwatari was long overdue, I wish I had better news to give you but I wanted to bring you guys up to speed on the development since (Mass)Drop is not going to (in a timely manner).
Please bear in mind that the following is by no means an official update, this is just my conjecture and opinion. With that out of the way, let’s see where we stand with Susuwatari.
First of all this is a completely different product compared to /dev/tty. Susuwatari is double-shot ABS, we need new molds for every key and it’s an order of magnitude more complicated to manufacture compared to dye-sub PBT.
Up to last February development seemed to be going rather smoothly. We had a lot of things to fix but at least I could see a day-to-day progress. The quality was still not great but Yanbo (from Drop) seemed confident… until he wasn’t.
We already had some of the molds, we already had prototypes, we started picking and fine tuning the colors. But we reached a point where Drop understood that the manufacturer couldn’t pull out the keycap set with the quality we wanted.
So out of the blue they told me that they changed manufacturer and we had to do everything all over again.
I praise Drop’s decision, they did the right thing here. They wanted a quality product even if that meant postponing the release date (by quite a bit). That was the only sane choice to make. If you want to blame Drop, you could blame them for “not seeing that coming”. They will tell you hiccups happen in production, but this is no hiccup, you don’t start a drop if you don’t have a manufacturer you trust. But this is just me. In a kickstarter world it’s pretty common to take people’s money and “que serà serà” (whatever will be, will be).
Now, if you ask me, there are other forces at play here that Drop is not willing to share, especially not with me. I’m pretty sure they don’t really like me and they won’t like this post (as always). Maybe the old manufacturer asked for more money, or more time, or they promised something they couldn’t deliver… well, it doesn’t matter, fast forward to last week.
I finally got a semi-final sketch of how the legends will be injected into plastic. Let me tell you, this time they went great length to make a quality keycap set. I haven’t seen this level of fine tuning with the previous manufacturer. I’m really pleased with that… BUT… We still don’t have the colors finalized and I still have to see a prototype. Basically since February I’ve seen incredibly little progress.
Please rest assured that the product is going to be released and I’m pretty confident the quality will be as good as we all
hope expect, but from where I’m standing I’d be surprised to see a final product before second-half-of-September/October. That assuming all the colors and prototypes are fine at first try.
All I’ve been told is that plastic injection itself is pretty fast. Susuwatari could be on your keyboards just 3-4 weeks after all the kits are greenlighted. In the past Drop released a product without letting me check it first (namely the first /dev/tty), so Drop not letting me see prototypes is not a symptom of a slow development; what I do know is that we still don’t have the color finalized, so at the moment it’s impossible to actually produce the set even if all the molds were done. I don’t know why they are not sending me color samples yet, but the day they will we could finally start the count down.
PS: is it just me or the new “Drop.com” identity sounds… silly? It’s like they wanted it shorter because it’s cool, you know, next will be just DRP.com, because dropping vowels is so Silicon Valley. Oh well, digressing here.