As you’d expect given global events, the 2021 Consumer Electronics Show will be a largely digital affair, running from January 11 through 14, 2021. Sweden’s Cake Motorcycles decided to get a jump on the action with what it’s calling the Cake Electronics Show. (I mean, if your name starts with C and you make electric bikes, it’d be rather difficult to resist that particular temptation.)
What’s the star of the show, you may ask? Depends on whether you’re a potential or existing Cake rider, or a food delivery business. On the food side, there’s a fancy new hot/cold box that monitors and keeps restaurant delivery orders at optimal temperatures on the ride. Today, though, we’re going to concentrate on the very rider-focused Cake creation, which is a connectivity app called Cake Connect.
With a name like that, you might expect the two Cake innovations to be related. Baked goods fans, we’re sorry to inform you that Cake Connect is not a button that automatically connects you to a delivery rider who will bring a perfectly baked and decorated cake straight to your door. Instead, it’s an app that lets you dial in drivetrain settings, monitors the health of your bike, allows Cake to administer software updates remotely, and acts as an anti-theft and tracking device.
Starting in the first quarter of 2021, it will come as standard equipment on all new Cake motorcycles. The company also says owners of existing Cake bikes will be able to retrofit the system onto their machines. For the moment, it only works on iOS phones—with no mention of when or if Android devices will be supported in the future.
Depending on your opinion of such things, the fact that Cake plans to offer Cake Connect as a subscription service (with rates to be announced in April, 2021) may be extremely annoying. If the phrase “software as a service” makes you hiss, then “motorcycle as a service” probably won’t make you much happier. To be fair, anti-theft tracking systems have long been offered as subscription services, and that’s just one functionality of Cake Connect.
There are other concerns, too. We’re definitely not saying that Cake would ever do this, but a $113M Apple lawsuit regarding the Fruit Stand’s intentional throttling of older iPhones only happened in November, 2020. It’s still a fresh—and ugly—memory in January, 2021 as I write this. There are good and useful points about our seemingly bottomless and growing collection of quantified-life-enabling devices, but there are some unsettling ones, too.