A car is like a stick

When the first person picked up a stick and used as a tool, everyone wanted one and an industry boomed.

As the market became saturated, producers tried to differentiate their stick by using different colours or new materials for “high end” sticks. Eventually though, everyone has a stick and unless it is a particularly special stick, noone goes “ooh! ah!” when your neighbour comes home with a new stick.

Like a stick, at some point the market became saturated such that a car is no longer innovative or novel, it is simply a commodity and becomes a low margin item. Where the true boundless opportunity arises is where we take a commodity and use it to create a service.

In the case of a car, it becomes a means of transportation of people and goods which is focussed more on the capability that the commodity provides rather than any inherent value the car has in its own right. A car as a transportation device is therefore an enabling technology for the provision of transport related services.

In the early 90’s my parents would proudly tell their friends that I was “in computers” and they would respond with appropriate exclamations at how clever I must be to understand such wondrous technology that was beyond the grasp of mere mortals.

Nowadays pretty much everyone carries more processing power in their mobile phone than the combined computing resources of a major university in the 60’s and entirely takes it for granted. Being “in computers” is no longer special, it too has become a simple commodity. Again, computing technology has become an enabler for the provision of a vast range of services.

Many industry pundits are pointing at cloud computing as the next wave of technology to sweep home and industry. I ponder what this pervasive and immersive communication technology will enable and the effect it will have on societal social structures.

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