January 10, 2008
A car for the other half
India’s Tata Motors unveils its $2,500 car today, says Andy Mukherjee in Bloomberg, and the world will never look at Indian engineering the same again. As rising food and energy costs squeeze the developing world, India’s “underappreciated” engineering prowess will be an agent of “disinflation” as it rewrites the “definition of affordability.” The $2,500 car may make “critics snigger” about meeting Western safety and environmental standards, but “they are missing the point: This isn’t a product for the West.” It is for the world’s “next billion consumers,” and Tata is smart to pounce on them now instead of just waiting for them to become wealthier.
Combo-mania hits the kitchen
At the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Whirlpool is “going all Refrigerator 2.0 on us,” says Barry Gottlieb in the Los Angeles Times, showing off a fridge equipped with digital picture frame, iPod dock, or Wi-Fi touchscreen computer. The “robo-combo kitchen appliance is nothing new”—NCR showed a combo microwave/ATM/computer/TV in 1998—but this year “manufacturers, the media, and Bill Gates are all enamored of the combo idea.” But come on. First how about a fridge “where all the cubes don’t end up as a solid chunk”? And if they can create a Wi-Fi fridge, how hard can it be to design “an oven that turns off when my dinner starts to burn”?
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