SodaStream's Refrigerator Heats Up

Carbonated water may not be such a hot offering on cool refrigerators.

Retailers have been slashing the price of the first fridge to offer SodaStream (NASDAQ: SODA  ) technology. Samsung began offering the high-end refrigerator with the option to dispense still or carbonated water earlier this year.

Samsung's stiff suggested retail price of $3,899 seemed like a high hurdle to clear, but retailers have made it a popular markdown these days.

  • Best Buy is offering it on sale for $2,499 with free shipping.
  • Home Depot will have it at $2,500 through Sep. 7.
  • hhgregg is selling it for $2,519, but that also comes with a $79.99 prepaid Visa card or $100 in hhgregg credit.
  • Sears is at $2,519 for appliance shoppers that aren't there for a Kenmore.
  • Conn's didn't get the memo. It's perched at $3,299.

Appliance sales are common as we head into the Labor Day holiday weekend, but this seems orchestrated. Is this a permanent price cut? Is Samsung getting ready to roll out a new "powered by SodaStream" fridge, so it's clearing out these high-end French door refrigerators?

Investors would like that last point to be the case, but it still means that retailers had a hard time moving these coolers at higher price points.

SodaStream is the undisputed champ of home-based soda making, and that's a market that's expanding quickly. Revenue climbed 29% in its latest quarter, and it's not just Samsung noticing.

Rival appliance maker Whirlpool (NYSE: WHR  ) got into bed with SodaStream just two months ago, though its commitment for now is limited to its KitchenAid line of small countertop appliances.

Clearly, there's a market here, but Samsung and SodaStream may have overestimated the affluent consumer's appetite for carbonated water at the push of refrigerator door's dispenser. It's not just about flavored sodas, as plenty of harder libations go well with seltzer. It could have been a problem with educating the market.

Early adopters pay up for new technology, but the same rules don't necessarily apply in the kitchen. Investors also probably did the math. Buying a $100 SodaStream maker can be justified in a matter of months, but it's hard to rationalize paying $1,000 or more for a fridge just because it shoots out fizzed-up water.

As soon as the pricing is right -- and it may be there or nearly there now -- SodaStream and Samsung will be popping up all over the place with these pop makers.

Let's move from the kitchen to the living room
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