The hottest item for this holiday season may just blow up underneath your feet. Self-balancing scooters, marketed as hoverboards, are being criticized by airlines and consumer advocates because their lithium batteries can overheat and catch fire.
Many airlines, including the big three (United, Delta and American), are refusing to load the hoverboards on their planes, even as checked baggage. There are have been several reported instances of the hoverboards catching fire and tests by the airlines have shown that they pose a danger.
The issue right now is that most of the batteries are simply shoddy, made in China while companies buy up patents to latch onto the craze.
Will people still buy hoverboards?
The issue for me is whether it’ll make a difference to consumers. I can imagine that parents will be hesitate to buy them for their children, but I can also see the consumers who want them still buying them.
Amazon has pulled all but two hoverboards from its website, keeping Jetson and Razor, the latter of which is owned by Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, because their batteries have passed tests.
The larger reasons that those who are willing to pay for the hoverboards will not hesitate is because technology has moved so fast in the last decade that there is a belief that technology will fix the problem. Additionally, the target audience for the hoverboards just might not care that they are dangerous. It might even make them more attractive.
It wasn’t that long ago that Apple consumers were concerned that the MacBook laptops would burn their laps if they were sitting there too long. Of course, they didn’t catch fire. But the point is that we have entered an age where we believe so soundly that technology will enrich our lives that this feels like a hiccup for those target audiences purchasing one of these hoverboards.
Beliefs are powerful things, because they are rarely changed. Even by rational arguments. Think about politics. No matter what rational, reasonable arguments you may fire, the answer from the other side is often: “Yes, but I believe.”
Whether hoverboards are fads is another subject. They could certainly go the way of the Pet Rock, but right now they seem cool to a select audience. Especially when we see athletes riding them and Ellen DeGeneres giving Justin Bieber one for his birthday.
The simple truth is that the target audience for hoverboards simply doesn’t care whether they blow up or not. They will take the risk.