Brydge, the company that once aimed to make high-quality iPad keyboards that practically turned them into MacBooks, has gone out of business. The company’s website is just a logoemployees and pre-order customers haven’t heard from anyone in months, and 9to5Mac details the fall of Bridgeconfirmed by conversations with almost a dozen former employees.
You should read the entire investigation if you want to know how poorly managed growth, a hostile workplace, the pandemic, and the jittery nature of trying to work with and with Apple led to the closure of Brydge. You’ll read about business, leadership, and marketing decisions that, in hindsight, lead to an inevitable conclusion. But there’s also an inside story about what it’s like to try to tie your van to the whims and preferences of the world’s largest technology corporation.
Brydge is best known for making Apple accessories, particularly iPad keyboard cases, with a focus on materials, design, and functionality that sought to go beyond Apple’s own accessories. They were made of aluminum, had laptop-like hinges, and their keyboards were backlit. In October 2019, Bridge attempted to beat Apple by six months by releasing a Pro+ with a trackpad for the iPad Pro. Because iPadOS 13 didn’t have the native trackpad support that was due in iPadOS 13.4 in March 2020, the Brydge keyboard used the Assistive Touch accessibility workaround. The trackpad and its implementation are disappointing critics such as Jason Snell of Six Colors.
When the Apple Magic Keyboard arrived in April 2020, it not only featured full trackpad software support and a great Apple tablet, but also multi-finger gestures that Apple didn’t offer Brydge. However, Apple offered them to industry leader Logitech for his Combined touch case. Brydge has apparently been caught off guard by Apple and Logitech products just months after their own. When Apple approached Brydge to offer better access to their trackpad, Brydge happily agreed and soon got a lesson in power dynamics, according to 9to5Mac sources.
“Apple wanted Brydge to take the lead in unpacking its platform used by the Magic Keyboard in a way that third-party accessories can be used,” writes Chance Miller. Apple offered support, but Bridge’s questions led Apple to question whether Brydge was a worthy partner and whether it needed Apple’s help “too early”. Apple declined to provide debugging tools and responded to engineers’ questions with suggestions rather than outright fixes.
At the same time, Brydge’s not-quite-corrected Pro+ had a return rate of over 20 percent. Bridge was unable to tell customers about his work with Apple on its trackpad under a non-disclosure agreement. Full trackpad support was shipped in February 2021, almost a year after Logitech and Apple products. The company continued to spend money on marketing Pro+, a vital product that will fund further expansion. Having gotten this far into the post, you probably know how this would work.
From there, Brydge will be hungrily chasing acquisitions, first Razer, then Targus, and maybe even Foxconn. This will be followed by high return rates, exceptionally high employee turnover and many financial issues. Employees laid off after one bad acquisition in January are still due final payouts, and most people who pre-ordered ProDock I haven’t heard anything yet in January. Brydge issued a press release stating that its brand and intellectual property were “acquired by a third party as a result of a foreclosure process initiated by its senior creditor” and ceased operations.
Once again, you can read more about what happened on 9to5Mac.
Listing image by Brydge