What China Needs to Learn from “The Hover Board Fires”

One of the hottest products on the market this year are hover boards. These cool products have caught the imagination of a lot of people, especially kids, who want this type of scooter to zip around school campuses, malls and sidewalks. However, they are hot products for another reason. Many of them keep catching on fire. This has become such a problem, Amazon has pulled them from their store until they can get more details on ones that are safe vs ones that keep catching on fire. Additionally, all of the major airlines have banned them for travel on planes.

The reason for most of these fires is, especially with the lower cost hover boards, they use a cheap lithium battery. When they get hot, they catch fire. One of these fires burned down a house In New York state and there have been injuries too.

At the moment, there are two factories in Shenzen that make these hover boards and they all use similar designs. But in China Inc’s quest to dominate this market and move it forward, they may have actually shot themselves in the foot with the lack of quality control and rushing these to market. China clearly wanted to drive this market and have the type of leadership role in this new category of mobile transportation that lets them extend the Chinese brand around hover boards.

But with these fires, Chinese manufacturers and China Inc. need to realize quality and safety does matter if they want to blaze new trails and try and bring new products to market with a real Chinese stamp on it. Now, with dozens of stories about poor Chinese quality controls and hover boards catching fire, Chinese manufacturers in the Shenzhen ecosystem have egg on their face and even worse, their work is being called into question.

This needs to be a serious learning moment for China. Taking a leadership role when it comes to popularizing a product means there is no room for error with the first product to lead in a new category. I know they wanted to have products at the low to mid/high end but, even though it is the low end models catching fire, the overall impression of hover boards coming out of Shenzen is now tarnished. The bans on them and the safety issues will come with a high price since it could include law suits against the factories as well as the companies behind them along with more questions about the overall safety of this product. I wouldn’t to be surprised to see local city level legislation banning them and, if they are deemed a hazard, federal legislation as well.

Of course, over time the kinks will be worked out and there will be solid models of high quality that will be safer and even more stable. Think Segway-like stability on a hover board. But the leadership moment for China is gone. Let’s just hope they learn their lesson before they try and do something like this again in the future.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

3 thoughts on “What China Needs to Learn from “The Hover Board Fires””

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *