Sunday, March 06, 2005

  Why Indeed

"You get the same problem with lightbulbs. Why innovate and makes better ones when the current ones burn out often enough to keep you in buisness?"

Why indeed?

Because mass production doesn't SELL items, demand does.

Six years ago, I purchased 15+ compact fluorescent bulbs to light my new apartment. Since then, my monthly electric bill has been consistantly $25 lower than it was with incandescent bulbs. Those bulbs have yet to burn out and they have moved with me twice - all fifteen, all still working to this day. The oldest one is actually seven years old.

Yet compact fluorescents have hit the market big time and LED lighting was introduced last year and will overtake florescent sales easily by 2015. Remember, the market is driven by demand. We demanded compact fluorescent bulbs and the incandescent manufacturers came through with white efficient bulbs that last 5-12 years. We now demand LED interior lighting and most premium lighting outlets sell LED sets for indirect lighting fixtures. GE has an 'Edison' socket LED lamp that will hit the market this year. GE predicts sales to be in the millions of units. Those units are pricey now but so were compact fluorescents when they first shipped.

The market is driven by demand, not greed. If consumers show a willingness to buy something, manufacturers will produce that product. If there is low or no demand, that product isn't produced no matter how wonderful. The myth of a gas-controlled economy is easily debunked by the fact that the oil industry long ago diversified away from petroleum. If oil stopped being pumped today, Exxon would be (and is already) in the ethanol or H2 market tomorrow. Chrysler is going to introduce their first fuel cell vehicle this decade should hybrid demand stay elevated - and all indications are that it will. Also keep in mind that Ford is one of the top electric vehicle manufacturers worldwide and plans to keep that dominance in the face of climbing petroleum prices.

Look people, there are 6.6 billion people on earth. If Auto manufacturers produced a popular electric car that lasted 20 years or more, it would take decades for that demand to be fulfilled. By then the first cars would be wearing out and even more efficient models would be on the way. Even today, Detroit doesn't sell new cars because old ones wear out. Detroit sells new cars because people get tired of their cars after 2- 5 years. My Honda has 219,000 miles on it (original engine) and runs quite well. All I ask for is a car that runs that same 200,000 miles without having to gut the engine. Someone will still sell me new seats, mud flaps and cup holders.

Still need proof that there is no conspiracy to keep consumer items unreliable? Ask yourself this: when was the last time you bought a new refrigerator. My last one was a GE and came to me already 20 years old and still lives and breathes in Highland Park, CA. My Whirlpool washing machine is 30 years old and has survived two generations of my family. My GE dryer was given to me by a friend and no electrician alive can recognize the make and model of the door switch. The market is driven by demand. You can't sell items people won't buy.

And that is why.

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