Waiting on Lima: Ups and Downs of Watching a Kickstarter Project

Almost a year ago I wrote about a Kickstarter project formerly known as Plug. They debuted just as the Snowden revelations about Prism were making headlines, and their clouldless approach to file sharing struck a nerve.

The French team behind Plug ultimately attracted over 12,000 supporters and $1.2 million of Kickstarter funding. After my donation of $79, I became one of those supporters.

So what’s happened in the last year? Along with other backers, I received a stream of email “project updates” on this USB-based device’s progress. I understood they were turning a prototype into a real consumer product, so I assumed Lima–they renamed the device early on–would take time.

Fall came, then winter, spring arrived and every so often I would check the Lima emails. At some point, they seemed to tease with me with their news of false starts–‘we were 100% good-to-go, and then we pressed start…’–issued from their Chinese production facility.

I suppose if really wanted a device with the most important feature–a personal cloud service–I could have shopped around for a Pogoplug-like device.

But this project was different: inexpensive, all-in-one processing (file server, file syncing) crammed into a teeny thumb drive that could be connected directly to my home office router. In other words, I wouldn’t have to keep my Macbook online. When I emailed co-founder Severin Marcombes with a few questions, he explained how Lima could cache parts of my file system so it would always be available.

Over the course of the email updates, I learned more details about their software, which would allow client apps on IOS and Android to access and sync-up with Lima. Essentially, they’re offering more than what you can get from some of these USB-connected NASes that are on the market–closer to a true cloud-based file sync experience without the privacy issues.

As of their last two announcements, it seems that the hardware is squared away, they’re continuing to work on the software, and they expect the first shipments in late July. I won’t hold my breath, and there’s no guarantee that what’s shipped will work as promised.

On the other hand, part of the attraction of Kickstarter is that you share some of the ups and downs of real-investors. With Lima, I got my share of excitement.