12 Jan How the inventor of the selfie stick got shafted
Wayne Fromm spent roughly a decade hustling to get his camera monopod off the ground. But, the inventor says, he “met resistance.” People just didn’t get the concept of using an extendible pole to shoot photos of themselves.
They do now. Last holiday season, shoppers scooped up some 100,000 selfie sticks, and they are all but inescapable at tourist hot spots and big tech conventions. They seem to be everywhere and in various incarnations. Too bad—for him, at least—that few of them are Fromm’s.
It’s a conundrum gadget makers know all too well. Pour time and effort into a product, only to see cheaper knock-offs flood the market. Here’s how Fromm says it happened to him.
When Fromm vacationed with his daughter in Florence in 2002, he didn’t relish the thought of setting the camera down for a timed shot or asking strangers to snap a photo of them. A long-time product developer with a deep background in the toy industry, he eventually came up with a better way.
“When I first brought it out, it was called the world’s first handheld extendible monopod,” said Fromm. While the name’s not as catchy as “selfie stick,” he knew the idea was sound. So Fromm sweated through more than a hundred versions of what he would eventually call the Quik Pod. He filed utility and design patents going back to 2005, for what was described then as “Apparatus for supporting a camera and method for using the apparatus.”