The hot story in the news this week is Volkswagen’s reported brazen cheating in diesel engine emissions testing. This brought to mind a host of similar occurrences, from Samsung/HTC cheating at benchmarks to alleged cheating in SPC enterprise storage performance testing. Cynics say we should just assume we’re being cheated, but is this a world in which we want to live?
Although they are ridiculously inefficient, incandescent lightbulbs seem to have a huge number of fans. Despite the romance of the glowing filament, many governments are moving to ban the use of incandescent light bulbs in many applications. Here in the United States, the federal government intends to encourage the use of more efficient light bulbs but there is no outright ban.
The average home is incredibly inefficient, and nowhere is this more obvious than the ubiquitous electric lightbulb. Compact fluorescent (CFL) and LED lights are an order of magnitude more efficient at converting electricity to lumens rather than heat, but making the switch is not simple. The limitations, pricing, and sheer variety of lighting options are daunting.
I certainly benefit from standardization of the world around me, and I welcome interoperability and interchangeability as well as the price and product selection advantages. But I am not blithely focused on standardization above all else. I will happily use a proprietary solution if the alternative is inelegant, ineffective, or insufficient.
I am certainly not the first person to notice the peculiar â€œrace to the bottomâ€ that happens when products are commoditized. But it is been much in my thoughts recently as I observed the annual tragedy of holiday price wars. How can a company economically produce a DVD player, tablet computer, or even a string of Christmas lights at the prices we see today?