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Jetpack crash

19 February 2014

Regular readers will be well-aware that I'm a critic of the Martin Jetpack.

Not only am I a critic of the craft itself but also of the typical progression of a company that is pushing a "pie in the sky" product that, in my opinion, will forever be nothing more than a dangerous prototype.

I've already documented the natural progression for MJP and other similar companies here -- a succession of well worn steps that ultimately result in the venture capitalists getting their money (and a tidy profit) back by hyping things up in advance of a public float. Unfortunately, this exit strategy results in Joe Public wearing the costs of the folly in the form of potentially worthless shares.

In the meantime, it seems that Martin Aircraft (the developers of the MJP) are heading to Oz to try and scrounge a little more capital to stay afloat.

This Stuff story reports that the company has already met with investors in Sydney with the hope of rounding up the necessary funds.

It's also claimed that the product is expected to be market-ready by 2016.

Should we believe that claim?

Back in 2008, the company was claiming it would start shipments in 2010.

Later that date was revised to 2014.

Now we're told 2016.

Looks like vapourware to me!

Let's also not forget all the "deals" that were supposedly done and dusted.

Back in 2010, this Telegraph story reported that Glen Martin had done a deal with an "unnamed international aircraft company" for the production of more than 500 units a year.

Cue Tui's ad!

Did The Telegraph get it wrong -- I don't think so because other news sources were carrying similar stories...

According to this article written back in March 2010, "later this year, Martin plans to begin production of the jetpacks at an undisclosed location outside of New Zealand."

Huh? What happened? Four years later and not a single production unit exists and CAA didn't even give approval for manned test-flights until 2013 -- as reported in this Huffington Post story of a year ago which also quotes CEO Peter Coker stating "a recreational version for the general public is scheduled for a 2015 release".

Now it's 2016?

And the price!

In the Phys.Org story, it was claimed that the MJP would cost a reasonable US$75K, by the time the Huffington Post story was written, that figure had blown out to US$100k and the latest figure is $150K-$250K (according to Wikipedia.

So to all our Australian friends let me offer you some sage words of advice...

The MJP is (in my opinion) a 21st century Dodo. Avoid, avoid,avoid.

Much as I like to be the cheerleader for NZ's hi-tech enterprises, this craft is nothing more than a personal folly funded by a group of VCs who, right now, are probably working very hard to quit their stakes in the company before things crash. There are far better bits of Kiwi tech to invest your money in if you want better chances of seeing a return on that money.

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