Ina Fried

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Sphero, the iPhone-Controlled Robot Ball, Hits a Bump

Sphero, a robot ball that can be wirelessly maneuvered using a smartphone, is rolling off the production line more slowly than expected.

Orbotix, the company behind the product, said Wednesday that only a handful of orders will ship by the holidays, with most orders delayed until January. The $130 ball, which works with Android and iOS devices, was first shown at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company had said it expected to have limited production for this year, but that turned out to be even more limited than it had planned.

“Demand has been greater than expected and our production capabilities are slower than we planned,” Orbotix CEO Paul Berberian said in a letter to customers.

To try to make amends, Berberian said the company will expedite the shipping of all preorders, and will send a T-shirt and holiday card to anyone whose Sphero was expected this month but won’t be rolling around under the tree.

“We put a ton of effort into building up hype for this holiday season only to fall short of making good on the hype,” Berberian said. “But we hope that when your Sphero does arrive, it will make up for this delay in shipping with hours of entertainment for you and your friends.”

In the meantime, you can watch this video of me playing with an early prototype:


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”