An airline ban on battery-powered smart bags has forced another upstart luggage company to wind down operations.
Raden, a four-year-old smart luggage company, told BuzzFeed News that it was forced to shut down after airlines began requiring passengers remove and check the lithium batteries that power its suitcases, which can charge your phone and tell you their approximate location.
While Raden’s batteries are removable, the decision by a number of major airlines to ban bags with nonremovable batteries and the complaints of missed flights they inspired has tanked demand for its products.
“News like this is going to be a killer to your company,” Joshua Udashkin, founder and CEO of Raden, told BuzzFeed News. “It’s going to lead to a domino effect.”
Raden’s sales plummeted by about 45% during the 2017 holiday season compared to the same time the year before, Udashkin told BuzzFeed News. Post-holiday returns doubled compared to the year before.
Because airlines required the lithium battery to be removed at check-in, it made certain features like bag-tracking on luggage carousels “useless,” said Udashkin. “The regulation basically turned the core value proposition of our bags into a 0,” he explained. “It was not just a useless feature — it was nonexistent.”
The global smart luggage market once appeared quite promising: It was valued at $613.1 million in 2016 and expected to grow at a rate of 25% from 2017 to 2025, according to Research and Markets. The opportunity inspired companies like Away, Modobag, Arlo Skye, and Bluesmart to sell suitcases that could follow…