Welcome to the future, America. I'd be happy to see what a startup under Google can do, but the competition isn't exactly asleep.
To get your packet out of a Packstation, you need both the (magnetic strip) card that they send you on signup and a one-time PIN they send via SMS (not email). This might not sound "easy", but there has been a lot of abuse in the past years so that DHL was forced to step up security.
How do the US systems compare? Have there been reports on abuse?
From what I see Bufferbox right now only has a few locations, for Packstation its over 2500 locations and a wide userbase, as with software: the wider the user-base the bigger the profit for bad guys.
Who would have thought that an idea that exists in Germany for almost 10 years would still be great for a startup in the US/Canada.
It's easy to just blame rocket Internet and pretend like that's all of German innovation/startp scene. Packaging and bike sharing weren't even pioneered by startups but by huge formerly state owned companies who are Slow and boring n the Public eye
What irritates me is that nobody seems to point out these reverse cases, where others copy German innovation/ideas.
Also I'm wondering why these positive German examples didn't really scale internationally? Why didn't DHL roll out Packstation in the US? (Big company policies and lack of innovation?) Why has Mitfahrgelegenheit/Carpooling needed almost 8 years to launch in Europe? Why hasn't it launched in the US?
Just really wondering about the different perception and mindsets of US and German startups...
I personally find the profitable and sustainable business model way more attractive than the grow for the sake of growth model.
You could end up #1 in Germany against a #2 who is #1 in the rest of the EU - when by moving faster you could have been #1 in the entire EU.
P.S. I'm defining industrial as 'the manipulation and enrichment of physical goods' for the purpose of this comment.
The "locker model" might be better for high-value goods and an untrustworthy workforce, but it seems to require a pretty huge investment to get any significant coverage...
Too late, the hive mind which is $GOOG has already shown that it will do as it pleases; "hopefully" good [when convenient], otherwise whatever is profitable even if it is evil.
Can't say I blame the $GOOG; this is an inherent problem with huge organizations -- the meta consciousness which emerges vastly undermines any altruistic desires of individuals.
See also: $MS, $AAPL, $USGOV, et al.
Edit: and given a game of chance, and games in general. I wonder if anyone at Google has considered combining BufferBox with Ingress such that as you're playing the game if you 'win' a power up it is in the form of Google schwag in a locker, where the open code and which locker appears on your augmented reality glasses to claim your 'prize'.
Maybe you expected him/her to be excited about the exit but that not being the case does not mean you should have repled with 'rude sarcasm'.
You could have used the opportunity you used to respond to learn about competitors in the space however you chose this route.
I have noticed several senior (by karma) HN members that take an unecessary offensive approach towards comments that do not "tow the line".
We know you have FU money now but please remember that that expression is supposed to be figurative and not literal.
The downvotes, well, those are, strictly speaking, justified. :)
I didn't think he felt seriously offensed by the comment pointing out that the idea wasn't new.
>Google is experimenting with a service that would let folk find goods online, order them and have them delivered within a day for a modest fee. This seems similar to Amazon’s hugely successful “Prime” service, which costs $79 a year to join in America. Rather than try to replicate the e-commerce giant’s extensive network of warehouses, Google is looking for partnerships with shipping companies and retailers instead.
I'm excited to see what Google can do. Amazon dominates e-commerce so well I'll often buy from them even if there are cheaper options elsewhere (because it's easier). Competition, as usual, will be good in this space.
And FedEx Store (what used to be Kinko's) is pitching their network to retailers as well, I picked up a bunch of Walmart.com there.
Not sure it's going to be that big of a game changer.
So by now we're all aware that these are already ubiquitous in Europe.
The question I have is why it took so long to reach the US? Why didn't the main shipping companies there like FedEx and UPS step up and use their existing infrastructure to build something like this, much more easily than a startup could do.
Bufferbox is actually only in Canada.
It's not a service I need, and definitely not one I'd pay extra for. I live in an apartment. The apartment office signs for and stores my packages.
If I lived in a house, in an area where people would steal the package left on my doorstep, then I might use something like this. It would have to be really convenient though.
Most retailers are upfront regarding the delivery service used. You wouldn't shop at a brick and mortar retailer that's unreasonably far from you. Why shop at an online retailer that sends your packages unreasonably far?
I suspect the reason BufferBox can work is because they're not a delivery company, so they have no obligation to try and fit it in to their current business model. Although then a pre-existing delivery company could have always gone with the BufferBox model... so, maybe it's just not that profitable in big places like the US?
That is, in European countries with strong labour laws and unions, it's relatively expensive to pay people to deliver packages when most people are at home (early evening hours). The obvious answer is something like the Packstation, replacing labour cost with machines.
The US has a much wider market for very low income jobs because the marginal cost are lower, thus US companies can make money with jobs like people guarding parking lots, something you hardly see in Northern Europe (the weather might play a role, though...).
So naturally, such solutions spring up earlier where the relative win is higher. Plus as others mentioned the denser/more urban life style.
That's not a clear win by the way, lots of relatively decent jobs for low skilled workers are lost to these machines. The machines are cheap, but it might still have been more efficient to pay slightly less to the delivery workers (and kept them in jobs).
In cities where people live mostly in suburbs, it is not quite so affordable to supply enough of these pack stations.
And so chances of shutting down are fairly slim unless it was the team Google was after.
First time I'd seen them, and apparently they get a lot of usage.
Wow, not sure that was ever going to be feasible. Won't be an issue now that Google bought them. Good for them!
So to me, $3 seems like a steal when faced with all that.
In Canada now, I think the only instance that is as wide-spread is gas stations. I could see Buffer Box stations at selected pumps in the near future.
The problem is - people have no experiencing with Google related to mail - so they may be reluctant to trust them to be part of this equation. So they start with packages - offering a service to help out with package delivery, and acclimating people to Google being part of the mail-delivery equation. When people are ready, they offer the scanning service.
Packages, on the other hand, will still need to be delivered for the foreseeable future.
Furthermore, anyone who doesn't want their packages stolen, damaged etc because they aren't home to receive delivery is also a large market.
Yes, UPS does have an area where you can go pick up your package if it isn't delivered, but that is super annoying. I've had to do this many times and not only does their customer service suck, lines are fairly long, and the hours are very limited. It completely negated the point of ordering something online to avoid bad service, lines and store hours.
Congrats on the team, to me it sounds like Google wants BB to become a major point of contact between Google and it's customers.
Logistics is hard, and I don't say that about a lot of things.
Buying in bufferbox will just be early stages of a "buffer region" of satellite companies all bridging the virtual pure world of the google core and daily life.
Anything that currently has a key, is inefficiently owned and not shared, is fair game
this definitely suggests an attempt to threaten Amazon on their home turf.
We've had these for about a year or two. The company behind this is the privatised Finnish postal service.
This could be awesome. Congrats guys. Look forward to seeing what the future holds.