Sunday, July 08, 2007

Seven Things We Should Fix

It’s time to complain about the world’s imperfections.

7. Finding Parking: I’d rather have my car’s navigation system just tell my where the next parking spot is, instead of spending 20 minutes hunting for one.

6. Taxi Fleets: In Germany, your average taxi is a largish Mercedes. In the US, it’s a Crown Victoria. The city gas mileage for both is horrible. The incentives for cab operators to switch to hybrids are there: The cars cost the same, but the gas mileage is much better. Why aren’t we seeing faster adoption?

5. Different power plugs: Why does almost every country need to have a different type of power plug? Instead of carrying around an assortment of adapters, the countries of the world should sit together and agree on a global standard.

4. Power adapter bonanza: Why does each device need a different power adapter? If all electronics manufacturers sat down and agreed on a few common types, you’d never need to ask "does anyone else here own a Nokia"?

3. Power lines: Those huge masts are an ugly distraction in the landscape. Can't we dig holes and put it all underground?

2. Tickets: In the age of e-tickets, why do we still need physical tickets to concerts and public transportation?

1. Cash: Coins and bank notes? You have to carry them around and refill supplies when you run out. The fact that cash even exists creates opportunities for counterfeiting, money laundering, and other unwanted side-effects. We’re actually pretty far on this one, but some last rebel holdouts still refuse to take MasterCard or Visa.


2ni said...

You got one big Problem on these things: changing costs.
And point 3 is a problem of costs as well. Power lines in the ground are much more expensive...

Ed said...

Dude, you serious on this? Come on, you know the answers to all of these.

My quick summary of why these won't be solved:

7. Who would make money by solving that problem?

6. Switching cost.

5. Switching cost.

4. Customer lock in (and switching cost).

3. Cost.

2. Switching cost.

1. Cash lets me be anonymous. I like that when I buy some things.

You're better than mental laziness.

Gabor said...

Yeah, it all boils down to wrong incentives and switching costs. But:

7: Paid for by the people who bring you GPS navigation systems.

6: US and German taxi fleets rotate cars about every 4 years. They can just buy hybrids in the next cycle. But they aren't buying hybrids yet, probably due to traditions. "Switching cost" argument invalid.

5: Point taken, it's unlikely this will happen.

4: I think at least some percentage of mobile phone manufacturers could agree on a single standard, especially if forced by government regulation (not that I would support that).

3: Yes, unlikely, but power masts are still ugly.

2: The switching costs aren't actually that big. The Swiss Railways sell SMS-based e-tickets and probably save money with them over paper tickets.

1: You could build anonymous ecash, BUT: You have zero privacy anyways.

F said...

There IS an international power plug (IEC 60906-1) since 1986, it's just that nobody plans to use it except brasil:

Gabor said...

F: That looks a lot like the Swiss connectors to me. But it's much smaller.