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Monday, June 25, 2012

Segway

Niles Crane (Frasier TV Series) on a
Segway.  Full original picture link
No that's not a typo ... though I've probably been guilty of spelling it that way.  The correct spelling for the word, is segue.   But no, I'm talking about the invention that was going to revolutionize transportation as we know it.  The Segway.

Recent discussions reminded me of this.

Did you go to a 10 year celebration of the Segway?  Complete with the 10th Anniversary Edition launch?   What?  No?  Was there even a PBS documentary on life before Segways?  

I remember the hype, do you?  For months we were teased by this device that would revolutionize transportation and all that.   It was a hush hush secret.   Nobody would need a car or public transportation in the cities, etc.etc.   Perhaps because the originals cost $5K, or you had to stand, or there was no protection from the elements, or perhaps all three and then some ... but the Segway never did really even catch on as a trendy gadget or status symbol, let alone change transportation in our time.                                                                                                                                                      

By all objective measures, the Segway was a dud.  I don't know a single person (in real life) who owns one -- or at least who will admit they do!   I've never seen any "private" person using one.  By that I mean that nowadays you will see them in use, but not by ordinary people in the course of doing their ordinary personal business.  Who uses these?  Well, I've seen them fairly regularly used by ... mall security guards and parking meter attendants.

There are many more examples of the point I'm getting at.  Solar powered homes and electric cars come to mind.  These are even heavily subsidized and incentivized by government.  And yet relatively nobody still wants them.  The Segway bombed because no amount of hype and pomp and circumstance could convince the public they had to have one.  And yet despite knowing that the latest fill in new phone/computer/gaming-device here will likely cost a mere fraction of the launch price within months, people still flock to buy it ... camping out overnight for even just a chance to do so.

Marketing.  Advertising.  It only works if they give you what you want.

10 comments:

Steve Parker, M.D. said...

FYI, the Segway company owner died in an accident while riding a Seqway.

-Steve

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

Definition of irony!

Swede said...

I live in San Diego and have seen the parking ticket writers use them. It is useful for fast transport through hilly terrain (especially b/c here downtown is a steep slope) if you need to write tickets on cars before they drive away. Much faster than bikes, and allows the riders to get really fat and not care or let that impede their jobs.

Sanjeev said...

> Definition of irony!

Actually I thought " predictable "

One expects farm & construction workers to have scars, bike couriers to regularly have road rash ...

I always wished this guy would have a serious accident involving dandruff, billiard balls and macramé.

And for all the times half my hair got yanked out by those sh*tty machines, I wished serious rotating impeller accidents for this guy

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Marketing. Advertising. It only works if...people don't distrust the product. In a collision between a Segway and just about anything else, the Segway rider will come off worse. I wouldn't get on one if you paid me.

Do you think that many people would buy a McCyanide? ;-p

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

I'm jealous -- been once in 1998, for a day and a half before we started a car drive up the coast a bit before zig-zagging CA -- LUV San Diego! I'm surprised they haven't made it to mail carriers :D

Evelyn aka CarbSane said...

No, but the food engineers who have made fast food palatable responded to market forces. People wouldn't buy stuff that tastes like crap no matter how much you promote it! FWIW, many think that McD's is selling McCyanide :-)

Unknown said...

I think the problem with the Segway is men see it as less than masculine (not exactly a Harley) and women are concerned they will look goofy on one.

So unless it is a condition of continued employment, nobody is going to be caught riding one in public.

Asclepius said...

We had something similar back in the UK in the early 80s called the Sinclair C5 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EQetm_qWDg). Truly scary in traffic.

I did a tour of Dublin in a Segway last year. Great fun but for general personal transportation I prefer the bike.

Beth@WeightMaven said...

"Marketing. Advertising. It only works if they give you what you want."

Ah, but really good marketing/advertising makes you want what they're prepared to sell you, especially if there's a profit in it for them.

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