Basis was an early and fairly successful wearables startup, with a wrist device that was one of the first dedicated to serious athletes. Intel, which had never been in a consumer-facing business before, scooped it up about two years ago in the chip giant’s first major acquisition in the wearables space. (Intel would later buy Recon and acquire a large interest in Vuzix, two prominent AR visor makers.)
But Basis never did come out with a significant new model, as the industry coalesced around major players like Apple, Samsung, and — a particular competitor to Basis — Garmin. In June, Intel responded to reports that Basis’s batteries were overheating, offering refunds to those who wanted them and promising a software fix. The company said that as far as they knew, only 0.2 percent of devices were affected.
Yesterday, in a blog post signed by Josh Walden, SVP of Intel’s New Technology Group, the company said, Enough. Walden said a software patch wouldn’t do it, and Intel initiated a mandatory safety recall of — and full refund for — all Basis devices and accessories. And just to drive the point home, Walden said that the server that all Basis products need to sync and operate would be powered down after December 31, 2016, thereby bricking all existing devices.
For instructions on how to get your refund, go to support.mybasis.com.
It’s not likely that Basis will survive this. Intel seems to have turned its attention in the wearables industry to building platforms rather than consumer-facing devices. Any first-mover advantage it may have had in the device business is long since gone, and as loved as Basis devices were, it was never going to get back its lead. Read this as a cold business decision: the Basis was being expensive to fix and there was no chance of a successor succeeding at a scale that Intel would care about. Time to bite the bullet and write the whole thing off to experience.