When Panic first launched pre-orders for his adorable little retro-inspired handheld gaming device, Playdate, he expected the first 20,000 units to ship by the end of 2021 – just in time. , they hoped, for the holidays. This first batch sold out in less than 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, due to last minute issues with the battery components, even those first orders have now returned to 2022.
In an update email sent to affected pre-orders, Panic writes:
When our first 5,000 finished Playdate units arrived in our warehouse in California for 2021, we began testing a few. We quickly became concerned that some of them were not giving us the battery life we expected. Playdate’s battery is designed to last a very long time and always be ready for you, even if it’s not in use for a while. But it wasn’t: in fact, we found a number of units with batteries so drained that Playdate wouldn’t turn on at all – and couldn’t be charged. This is the worst case battery case.
It quickly turned into a multi-month research stress ball on deck, and we shut down production at the plant.
We made the difficult and expensive decision to replace all of our existing batteries with new ones, from a completely different battery supplier.
Panic goes on to note that they have received new batteries and are now working as expected… but getting everything back to Malaysia, swapping the batteries and getting them across the ocean is going to take some time.
Meanwhile, the company also discovered that the processor it planned to use for all Playdate units shipped in 2022 is now out of stock for literal years.
With many pre-orders in place, we immediately placed an order in our factory for all the parts needed for 2022 units and beyond. The response was… sobering. Many of our parts have been significantly delayed. In fact, we can’t get the current processor from Playdate for – you won’t believe – two years. Like, 730 days.
Maybe you’ve heard of the “global chip shortage” everyone is talking about? We’re here to say it’s very real. Covid-19 has caused a cascading set of global supply chain failures that lead to the disappearance of many, many electronic parts.
To work around this problem, the company redesigned the Playdate cards to support a different processor – a processor they say is more readily available, but which is not expected to impact how the handheld works. in any way that the user may notice.
The full text of Panic’s delay announcement is available here.
The company claims that although units 1 to 20,000 slipped in 2022, it currently does not expect orders placed so far to slip in 2023.
As always, the material is tough. Add a pandemic to the mix, well….