Keurig’s Failed Attempt at Proprietary Coffee

With their Keurig 2.0 single-cup coffee brewers, Keurig tried to make coffee proprietary, just like Gillette does successfully with razor blades. Unfortunately, customers just didn’t buy it – literally:

Clever competitors moved quickly to fill the void, with ways to, in effect, hack into the Keurig technology. The Rogers Family Company’s “Freedom Clip“, was sold patriotically as “Our Gift To You and Everyone …. Freedom Of Choice!”

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Worse for Keurig, as executives acknowledged Wednesday during its quarterly earnings briefing, sales of Keurig machines tanked and they began to accumulate on the shelves across the country. Sales of brewers and accessories declined by 23 percent, the company reported. Its stock price fell 10 percent in after hours trading.

My kids have original Keurig machines, which they find convenient for making single cups for them to take to work. But in general the machines are about as environmentally unfriendly as they could be, and I’m amazed how quickly that style of single-serve machine took hold in a world that claims to be so eco-conscious.

That aside, it is interesting to see such a rapid, obvious, and admittedly successful customer pushback.

I also hope that this makes some companies think twice before trying to use patents or DMCA legislation to attempt to create a proprietary product where one should not be.