The Digital Skeptic: Will.i.am Brands Show Just How Hard It Is To Get Paid
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Andrew Smits is a big fan of Will.i.am. But when it comes to the gadgets the musician-slash-entrepreneur is spinning up, we agree they probably "Will.not.work."
"The youth market is not the wide open blue water people think it is," Smits told me a few weeks back over drinks and finger food.
Smits is no idle fan boy. He's creative director of Concept 73, a San Clemente, Calif.-based marketing agency with serious chops selling action brands such as Rip Curl, Simple Mobile and Vans to kids.
He and I were at an industry confab trying to get our brains around how celebs such as Will.i.am., the Black Eyed Peas producer and early collaborator on the Beats by Dre line of headphones, are swimming into ever-odder consumer electronics waters.
Late last year Will.i.am rolled out what had to be the oddest device of recent memory: a clip-on smartphone camera lens case called the foto.sosho. The unit is designed, built and wholesaled by Will.i.am -- or William Adams, as he is known to his parents and the IRS. And it slots over an iPhone to extend its imaging features. High-end U.K. retailer Selfridges & Co. retails it for a stout roughly U.S. $480. Wider global release is expected later in 2013.
And no question, Mr. Adams is a legit master in cross-platform media jujitsu needed to get such a device off the ground.
"I travel a lot. I'm sponging all the time. I am a 'popthroplogist,'" he joked during the International Consumer Electronics Show as he explained his vision of entrepreneurship on stage during an event at the Las Vegas Hilton.