Tag Archives: Model T

The Chevy Volt and Nuance (Dragon NaturallySpeaking) – Some Thoughts on Innovation

Innovation:
1: the introduction of something new
. 2: a new idea, method, or device: novelty.

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Do you know the one indispensable business need of this era?  Here it is:  you’d best be really good at constant innovation, and a drive for constant, perpetual improvement.  If you are not, you will be left behind – in the blink of an eye.

Here are two pieces worth reading to reinforce this one undeniable reality.  The first is in the New York Times, about the constant improvement in dictation software.  The other is about the advent of the Chevy Volt.

#1 – even with a virtual monopoly, you still need to constantly innovate. The customers demand it, expect it, and if you don’t someone else might come along and pass you by.  That is the story of Nuance, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking company.  In Reliable Dictation, Down to a ‘T’ by David Pogue, there are details about the way the company continues to refine its dictation software’s smarts.  After a number of specifics, the article ends with this line:

Yes, Nuance has a near-monopoly in the speech-recognition game, but it’s nice to see it making steady improvements and price cuts as if it didn’t.

#2 – don’t panic about the pricetag of the Chevy Volt.  Less expensive models will arrive in the blink of an eye.

In The Volt Jolt: Electric cars like Chevy’s new Volt are too expensive today, but they won’t be for long by Daniel Gross, we read about the hefty price (really, really hefty) for the very first automobiles, and then their steady move downward.  The first cars cost four times the average household income of the day, whereas the Chevy Volt, though really pricey, is below the current average household income.

The price went all the way down to $260 in 1925, "the least that would ever be charged for a new American car."

The article gives a quick summary of the march of price-lowering progress, including the first Macintosh which cost $2000, and had a floppy disk, very little memory, and a tiny, puny screen; and the success of the Model T, and its steadily decreasing price tag.  Gross is convinced that history and our commitment to innovation promise a similar plummeting of price for the electric car in the months/years to come. Here are key excerpts:

Electric cars like Chevy’s new Volt are too expensive today, but they won’t be for long by Daniel Gross, we read about the hefty (really, really hefty) of the very first automobiles, and then their steady move downward.  The first cars cost three to four times the average household income of the day, where as the Chevy Volt, though really pricey, is below the current average household income.

The article gives a quick summary of the march of price lowering progress, including the first Macintosh which cost $2000, and had a floppy disk, very little memory, and a tiny, puny screen, and the success of the Model T, and its steadily decreasing price tag, and promises a similar plummeting for the electric car in the months/years to come. Here’s a key paragraph:

Now, of course, Ford’s achievement with the Model T was one for the ages. His manufacturing advances were quantum leaps. But auto manufacturers have continued to innovate, develop efficiencies, and offer drivers more for less. The story of our modern age is better performance, better equipment, and better materials for less money. A few years ago, I went to buy a bicycle for the first time in a decade and was shocked to see how far my money could go. Compare the bicycle you can buy today for $300 with one you would have paid $300 for five or 10 years ago. By the same token, a $25,000 car today comes loaded with features that would have been unimaginable five or 10 years ago.

The key phrase in all of this: The story of our modern age is better performance, better equipment, and better materials for less money. In other words, innovation is constant, and making many things (every thing) better, and then better yet, again and again — for less money is the new normal.