Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wolf Camera

Last Saturday I bought a camera at Wolf Camera. I would normally have gone to Best Buy or Frys but this being the Thanksgiving weekend I wanted to be as far away from those zoos as possible.

I was pleasantly surprised at the buying experience. I had thought that with the advent of discount electronic box stores, ebay, Shutterfly, Snapfish, etc that honest to goodness camera stores were dead.

The sales agent was informed and took time to show me different options and didn't rush me. And to top it off I was overwhelmed with free offers. The camera I bought (Cannon Powershot SD1100 came with a free printer/scanner/copier and free camera lessons. But wait there's more. It also came with a free rain jacket valued at $100.

So let's sum up I bought a $179 camera and got a printer, photo lessons and a jacket. The total value of the free items exceeded the purchase price of the camera.

I guess that's how you beat the box stores.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Auto Industry Bailout - Give me an iCar

Thomas Freidman's How to Fix a Flat has really spawned a lot of commentary on the failings of the auto industry and much creative speculation on how Steve Job's creative genius could change the car much as the iPhone changed the phone.

I'm sure there is a complex intertwined web of factors that have contributed to the auto industry digging itself into such a hole. Is pouring more money into that hole to save the economy the right path? As the markets free fall and my savings evaporate part of me says, "please stop the bleeding." But putting more money into a failed business can't be the answer. There was no dotcom implosion bailout and yet we now have Amazon, eBay and Google.

When gas was approaching $5 a gallon, secretly I was hoping it would go up to $10 and higher. While that would hurt our wallets it would truly force a new way of life. Now as gas prices fall back down again it's back to the same old ways. The auto industry is living in a false reality that just isn't sustainable and doesn't follow free market rules. How can it be that we are giving the auto industry money to fund innovation. That can't be right. Shouldn't competition spawn innovation.

If we bailout the auto industry to save the economy it can only be a temporary fix. We need a game changer. That change can come out of the ashes of the the failed big 3. At some point we have to let that failure play out. That collapse can enable a new business model that values innovation, imposes its own mandates on MPG and sets a time line for no emission vehicles. We don't need bigger car companies we need are smaller more innovative ones.

Silicone valley has the chance to be the next center of the auto industry. Pioneers like Tulsa motors are leading the way. Up next the Apple iCar. Watch out Detroit