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» Economy of abundance from leafar
David Hornick just wrote a post that turns the Long Tail into a new economy: Chris Anderson Strikes Again: The Economy of Abundance. several of the smartest VCs I am reading (actually 4 out of 9 VCs) are wondering directly [Read More]

» The Abundance of Memes from alexbarnett.net blog
The Long Tail meme took quite a while for it to propagate through memespace. I don't know how long [Read More]

» The Abundance of Memes from alexbarnett.net blog
The Long Tail meme took quite a while for it to propagate through memespace. I don't know how long [Read More]

» The Abundance of Memes from alexbarnett.net blog
The Long Tail meme took quite a while for it to propagate through memespace. I don't know how long [Read More]

» Welcome back to frugal computing from Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog
1. The paradox of abundance In a Wired article about the huge new data centers being built along the Columbia River by Google and its competitors, George Gilder writes that "in every era, the winning companies are those that waste what is abundant -- ... [Read More]

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Rik

Although I like the general idea, sortof, I also think it's somewhat of a narrow view: it's something you can only use if you are a reseller of sorts. Otherwise, you're still going to have to choose which products are going to be made and which ones aren't. That's because you're limited by the size of your business. Second, I don't believe that consumers or clients want all that much choice. Sure, when you're getting a DVD of some music, you want to be able to choose from everything that's available. But when you buy a new toaster, television or bed, you act differently. You go to the store you know has the stuff you like, and you choose from the lineup they have carefully picked to sell and support. This is what sets such businesses apart; if there where two amazons, they'd just be competing for price, and nothing else. And I think a lot of people are still looking for a shopping experience, the pleasure of buying something.
Apart from all of that, the design world has some frameworks to involve (future) users in the design of a product. This way, you get a product that is validated and inpired in terms of usage and functionality by what users want and need, right from the start. The techniques are built so that you're not asking them directly what they want, but rather you look for patterns and latent needs and such. So what you're doing is coming up with a really good solution for a subset of people, without them needing to choose between 3978738 possible solutions in the store. Sure, it takes effort, and sure, not everyone is going to like your solution, but at least you have properly identified what problems you product should solve. Marketing can do the rest.

This is where is think the abundance thing is coming short: it's just an acknowlegdement of of the fact that some people like to have all the choices. I don't think businesses should necessarily be in the business of deferring choices to the end users . So david, please send me some of those powerpoints when you get to see them, I'm really curious what people will try to do with this paradigm.

GraemeThickins

I agree with Rik -- the world would be in big trouble if every consumer-products company just threw everything out there for the consumer to wade through and figure out what to buy. This is a paradigm largely for online retailers, and nothing new. (With all due repects to Chris Anderson trying to sell books.) It was there when we built BestBuy.com, starting in '99 (I was part of that launch). The company's management could obviously see the implications that clicks would have on bricks. (They were just late in getting to it at the time! Now the site has sales of more than $1B per year.) Then again, note that the CD sections in their physical stores haven't gone away, and their 'big box' stores keep getting bigger and bigger to hold all the choices, at least the ones they know that most consumers want.

Rik's right -- this is all about the function of Marketing....as in market research, consumer trend research, product research, design, product-design testing, et al. But I guess we have to give Anderson a pass: what does he know about marketing, except maybe how to market (promote) a book? He's an editor! (If he does launch another book, maybe WSJ's Lee Gomes will take this one apart, too, in one of his columns. Are you listening, Lee?)

Sorry for the rant, but I just went through a very frustrating, tiresome experience related to this: trying to decide which digital video camcorder to buy. Way too many choices, way too much confusion, way too many arcane features, way too much goobledygook. (And don't even get me started about the manuals.) This is an example of what happens when an industry doesn't do Marketing well (the product planning and research part especially), and instead just proliferates endless designs, models, features, etc. When are they ever going to take the lesson from Apple?? And the electronics retailers, too (both clicks and bricks), still have a long way to go to effectively help consumers cut through all the complicated choices and make a damned purchase -- to that I can attest!

I say, if the Economy of Abundance is to benefit consumers, then the function of Marketing becomes even more critical than it is now. I'm reminded of my favorite Peter Drucker quote: "The business enterprise has two -- and only two -- basic functions:
marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs."

regards,
Graeme Thickins
Minneapolis

Caribbean Guide

The concept of abundance is not as new as it might appear. To the contrary, when Europeans moved to North America, they were faced with unprecedented abundance of land (relative to the economy they left).

Similarly, many inherently valuable commodities have always been abundant, relative to other, inherently less valuable commodities (the classic example used by economists is the comparison between water and diamonds).

Rather than assuming the era we are entering is unprecedented, more wisdom can be gained by thinking about historical examples where abundance emerged, and rapidly relative price levels changed rapidly.

The plunging cost of bandwidth and storage has significant implications, but it is hardly unprecedented.

Consider, for example, the plunging cost of horsepower during the late 1800's and early 1900's with the invention of steam engine, internal combustion engine and electrical generation.

Frank Szendzielarz

The idea of an economy of abundance is an old one. It is the basis of Technocracy. Indeed, the author may be a Technocrat. www.technocracy.org

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Chris deserves great credit for simplifying and contextualizing a concept that plays such a big role in the evolving connected economy.

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