It's a big day for Keurig Green Mountain (UNKNOWN:GMCR.DL) and Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO). Keurig Kold -- the beverage maker that prompted Coca-Cola to acquire an eventual 17% stake in Keurig Green Mountain -- finally hit the market today.
Sure, it's only available on Keurig's website. Despite all of the buzz generated at last night's launch party, it will be a couple of weeks before it hits a couple of key markets and we're a year away from mass market penetration.
We've been waiting a long time. It's been nearly 20 months since Coca-Cola announced that it would be snapping up a minority stake in Keurig Green Mountain, teaming up to offer Coke-branded flavors for the Keurig Kold machine that was in development.
A lot has happened in that time, and most of it is not encouraging. SodaStream (NASDAQ:SODA) has gone from a company posting decelerating sales growth to one generating sharp declines on both ends of the income statement. This might seem like an opportunity at first, but it's a bad omen when the undisputed leader in home-based carbonation is falling out of favor.
Soda consumption has also posted annual declines for nearly a decade, making the delays in getting Keurig Kold to market that much more of a problem. After all, the market is that much smaller than it was when it was first announced.
It also doesn't help that Keurig's brand has fallen out of favor in that time. The company best known for its single-cup brewers has been reeling since introducing the Keurig 2.0 platform that has irked java sippers with its restrictive label-scanning technology.
Can Keurig Green Mountain afford another flop? Keurig Kold was once seen as a potential SodaStream killer, but SodaStream did a pretty good job of doing that itself. Now the fear has to be that a soft reception for Keurig Kold could destroy the Keurig brand at a time when sales are going the wrong way.
There will be many obstacles in Keurig Kold's way. Sure, it has Coca-Cola and other major beverage brands in its arsenal. Being able to prepare chilled beverages at a cool 39 degrees Fahrenheit -- and without a bulky carbonator -- will help. However, at the end of the day Keurig Kold is a machine that starts at $299. That's the kind of investment in a beverage maker that would make sense if the sodas prepared are substantially cheaper than store-bought brands, but teaming up with big brands and forcing the carbonation into the individual pods is something that will make the Keurig Kold ownership decision one that is based on convenience instead of value.
Keurig Kold is finally here, but it got here too late and seemingly at price points that are too high.