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Context

I was in Tokyo this week. It is always interesting to see how context affects products. For example, look at this parking lot:

Parking Garage

The building is over ten stories tall, and lifts the car up into the building. When you back out, a round disk on the ground rotates the card so you are pointing towards the street. As a side benefit, you don't have to worry about theft, as long as you trust the operator.

The product is a perfect match to a city with very high land prices due to lack of space. This would never work in my home town in Colorado. Land is cheap; cars are big. Another example is this gas pump. The station is very small, and getting in and out of the street dangerous. The pull down nozzle can reach the tank from any direction the car parks. This prevents turning around to get the car in the right position. Gas is pumped for you by the attendant, so you don't have to worry about managing the hose.

Gas Pump

More subtle tradeoffs like this exist. For example, a company I am on the board of directors of sells capital equipment. Some customers care about overall economic benefit. Because the equipment is connected to another machine that costs 4 times as much, it economically better to make our equipment faster, even if if the costs goes up, because it lowers the over all cost of the combination. However, some countries in Asia are very sensitive to initial capital outlay, and willing to accept a lower initial cost, even if it is not a economic maximum due to lower performance. Knowing the market allows us tune the product and business model to match.

The Perfect Product: Priceless

I have been in Penang, Malaysia these days helping a company integrate a new product into their manufacturing line and getting feedback on user experience. A little luck came my way and I got invited to a Malaysian wedding reception.

Wedding Flower

A prayer was invoked in Malay with chanting of the Koran in Arabic. The couple dressed as King and Queen. Friends and Family visited them on their throne and sprinkled water and flower petals on their hands, then gave them their hand to congratulate them. The president of the local company and I were invited up to give them our blessing as honored guests.


King and Queen

The bride and bridegroom made a very happy couple; how can anyone improve on that? No man made product can match the value of a wedding: infinite value value zero cost.


Weddind Couple

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