Trademarking the Fizzio machine might look like a step towards marketing a Starbucks at-home soda machine (the company is already retailing equipment, like its Verismo coffee machines), but spokesman Zack Hutson says, “There are no plans to sell at-home.” The customer response to the chain’s soda test has been positive so far, and the trademark only “pertains to the in-store test,” according to Hutson. “We take steps to protect our IP. This is a normal course of doing business.” He declined to share any information on sodas coming to other markets.
STORY: In Soda-Ban Battle, Starbucks Beats Mayor Bloomberg
Whether or not Starbucks will offer Fizzio exclusively in cafes, it seems intent on taking advantage of America’s growing thirst for do-it-yourself soda. Users can customize their drinks (to be bubblier, for example, or have fewer calories) and makers like SodaStream (SODA) market them as an environmental alternative to bottled sodas, which require fuel for shipping.
The SodaStream machine, invented in 1903, only recently took off in the U.S. The company took in nearly $437 million in revenue last year, up by 51 percent from 2011. More than one-third came from the Americas, which was only about 20 percent of SodaStream’s business in 2010.
Competitors have followed. In August, French company Mastrad launched a machine called PureFizz. Cuisinart introduced a sparking beverage maker earlier this year, and also markets and sells soda makers by Primo, a Winston-Salem (N.C.) bottled water company. Green Mountain (GMCR), the maker of Keurig coffee brewers, applied for a trademark in July for a still and sparkling beverage machine called Karbon.
I think this confirms what we all know, that breaking into home carbonation is probably not worth it for anyone except, possibly the big boys, KO and PEP. So, I'd bet GMCR and SBUX have that figured out.
And where does that leave us? I think with just one more confirmation of the concept and a bunch of shorts that can kiss their as is goodbye.
There is only one logical way that the big boys get in and that is with a buyout of SODA. That will happen in a year or two at probably $4-$5 billion, IMO.