Why did the Segway never become ubiquitous like bikes and motorcycles?
I loved the documentary with Dean Kaman and his inventors lab. He’s an extraordinarily talented guy and he made his first fortune building medical IV technology in his basement. The biggest problem with the Segway is that it was built so well that customers rarely had a need to replace it:
“Judy Cai, president of Segway, suggests that Segway’s engineering is partly to blame. The PT is engineered with several redundant systems to keep it operational even if some components fail—which is good for users, but not the bottom line of a company that needs to sell new units year after year.”
“‘We tried analyzing, how come sales cannot go up quickly? One reason, I hate to say, is the quality of it, how durable it is,’ Cai says. ‘I talk to customers riding [an old] unit. It doesn’t look good because it’s been on the road 12 years. It has 100,000 miles on it. But the machine itself runs very well. And so when you try to sell new units [to those customers] . . . unfortunately, it does hurt us.’”
Good for the environment, bad for business. What’s the ethical position for planned obsolescence? Cheaper production costs and pricing equals more accessible to the general public?