Archive for June, 2007

Give Mika a Raise

June 27, 2007

Perhaps the last real American journalist, Mika Brzezinski from MSNBC went on air today and REFUSED to read the lead story on Paris Hilton.

In fact, she went a step further and actually tried to BURN the script, before finally settling on tearing it up, then shredding it.

This story doesn’t have much (or anything) to do with technology or same-day delivery, but such a rare principled display deserves some recognition… we’re just doing our part : )


The Dot Calm Effect

June 18, 2007

Salil Deshpande at Bay Parnters sent me an interesting NYT article today about the recent downturn in the e-commerce market.

The article cites a key reason for the calming effect being the fatiguing “chore” it has become for online buyers to get the stuff they buy online.

Additionally, retailers seem to be gradually hiking their shipping costs for online purchases, making it even more expensive to get online purchases to your door.

Same-day delivery attacks both of these problems head on.

By replacing the fatigue of online shopping with the thrill of instant gratification, e-tailers can trumpet that they are once again the most exciting and convenient place to shop.

And by delivering products direct from store locations near the customer, e-tailers can actually REDUCE the cost of shipping to the consumer vs. typical expedited shipping rates.

Lower costs for shipping AND faster delivery? Now that’s nothing to be calm about : )

Sony makes its smartest move in 35 years…

June 4, 2007

Sony seems determined not to re-live the crushing defeat of Betamax v. VHS circa 1970-something.

In its latest bid to outmaneuver HD-DVD, Sony is reportedly cutting the price of its new model Blu-ray players by $100, a little less than 20% off the old $600 sticker price.

I think its a brilliant move. If nothing else, it demonstrates that Sony learned a valuable lesson from its first go around in the format wars: namely, price is king.

Betamax died largely on the fact that its recordable tapes were both shorter in length and considerably more expensive than those for VHS, making it pricier for consumers to record shows.

That coupled with a higher-priced player sealed the deal in the marketplace, even though Beta was obviously the superior technology. The battle was over before Sony could get its act together and make significant price cuts, thus killing Beta before it really had a chance to live.

Fast forward to present day and a Sony board room conversation that probably went something like this:

Sony Executive 1: “Instead of waiting for HD to eat our lunch, let’s cut Blu-ray’s price tag by 100 bucks and make Sony the affordable standard.”

Sony Executive 2: “But we’ll lose money on every unit!!”

Sony Executive 1: “Betamax.”

Sony Executive 2: “…$100 off, eh?”

Unless Sony was building in a monster margin, it seems fair to say they’ll be losing considerably on every new Blu-ray player sold. But you absolutely have to admire their tactics in historical context: it’s quite often that corporations pay lip service to the concept of learning from mistakes. Its exceptionally rare, however, that they actually do.

Same Day Delivery, Mumbai-style

June 1, 2007

It turns out in India, same day delivery is alive and well, and has been so for over a century.

At lunchtime in downtown Mumbai, thousands of men called “Dabbawallas” — literally translated “meal-carrying men”  — scurry about the metropolis, delivering home-cooked meals to executives directly from the hands of their family members at home.

The old-world system, dating back to the era of English colonial rule, is made possible by simple color coding of boxes and a  low-tech supply chain consisting of light rail and dilapidated bicycles.

…oh, and they deliver 32,000 lunches per day…

Despite the absence of high technology routing and delivery mechanisms, errors are extremely rare, and when they do happen, are usually owed to colors rubbing off the boxes from years of reliable use.

My favorite quote from the article:

Says career dabbawalla Kondaji Chowdhury,”There is a service called FedEx that is similar to ours.”

I love it.  🙂


[thanks to Jason Crawford at Pelago for the article]