Why Segway Failed To Reshape The World: Focused On Invention, Rather Than Innovation

from the that-ain't-the-solution dept

In January of 2001, word began to leak that Dean Kamen was working on something amazing that would change the world. If you were paying attention to tech news, you may recall it was everywhere. There was some book deal about it, and we were told that it was going to change the way cities were laid out and would absolutely revolutionize transportation. It had the blessing of Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos and John Doerr and was amazing. But no one knew what it was. Hell, it didn't even have a name. It was referred to either as IT or Ginger -- and there were all sorts of rumors about what IT might be. Eventually, of course, IT was revealed as the Segway. And while it was sorta kinda maybe cool, it hardly came close to living up to its original billing. It was expensive and not really all that useful for most people. Segway, the company, has gone through a merry-go-round of new CEOs and new strategies, none of which have gotten it out of a niche market.

Recently, in talking about how the Netflix Prize helped demonstrate the value of openness and collaboration when it came to innovation, rather than hoarding and taking the "inventor-knows-best" attitude towards things, Mark Blafkin of the Association for Competitive Technology (a tech industry lobbying group who tends to be a patent system supporter) took exception to what we said about the value of openness and collaboration instead of focusing on patents, by noting that Dean Kamen has also put a lot of effort into collaboration and prizes to award innovation, but also is a strong believer in patents (and, actually, making them stronger).

In response, I pointed out that Kamen's thinking on patents may actually explain part of the reason why Segway has struggled so much over the years. In believing so strongly in patents, it shows someone who tends to believe invention is more important than ongoing innovation, even as there's a growing body of evidence to suggest the exact opposite is true. Invention is the original idea, but innovation is an ongoing process of taking a product and adjusting and adapting it to the market. And we've been seeing more and more studies that note the innovation part is so much more important in determining the success and the economic contribution of a product.

So it seems like perfect timing to see Paul Graham's recent essay about why the Segway failed to change the world. He focuses mainly on the fact that the Segway basically makes people look dorky -- and that a better design might have helped more people find it enticing. But at the end he notes:
Curiously enough, what got Segway into this problem was that the company was itself a kind of Segway. It was too easy for them; they were too successful raising money. If they'd had to grow the company gradually, by iterating through several versions they sold to real users, they'd have learned pretty quickly that people looked stupid riding them. Instead they had enough to work in secret. They had focus groups aplenty, I'm sure, but they didn't have the people yelling insults out of cars. So they never realized they were zooming confidently down a blind alley.
Exactly. Again, this highlights the difference between invention (believing that you alone have come up with the perfect idea for a great product) and innovation (the ongoing iterative process of going back and forth with the market to test and understand what the market wants and how to make your product meet their needs). By focusing so much on the invention, Segway missed the real opportunity for innovation, and that's caused all sorts of problems for the company.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    jjmsan (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 10:59am

    There is also the problem that most areas have no place for it. It is difficult to use on a sidewalk, not really safe on the street and you have nowhere to leave it when it is not being used. It may be an incredable invention, but not useful for it originally intended use(mass transportation)

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:14am

    Re:

    Is this for real? These retarded devices were supposed to be used for MASS TRANSPORTATION? Huh, and here this whole time I thought it was just the latest clever idea constructed by American Mayors to make their city police look ridiculous. Here in Chicago, some of the cops on those idiotic half-scooters actually wore the same shorts as the bike cops.

    You know, the ones designed a la the NBA player shorts of the 1940's. Long enough so that the scrotum doesn't ACTUALLY straddle the crotch seam, but stills hort enough that most of America's finest, who are clearly stepping up their game in the local donut eating contests, have the bottoms of their ass cheeks hanging out the back of the Segways as they bounce down the sidewalk.

    What a joke, mass transportation. Because traffic in major cities isn't bad enough, you want to give people a GODDAMN TOY to get to work in the morning? Great you idiots, you're apparently trying to turn the Kennedy, US101, and the Jersey Turnpike into one big game of bumper cars.

    Plus you think road rage is bad now? Imagine drivers of these tard-machines being able to drive up NEXT TO EACH OTHER, and just rear back and punch each other in the mouth while behind them, pileups the size of a mountain ensue as these things, which apparently refuse to tip over, all run up next to each other and a six lane highway just turns into a massive slugfest. The police arive on the scene, but they're on Segways and are immediately attacked by the teetering people in the back of the pileup. Ambulance Segways are dispatched, but they have nowhere to put the injured. Fire-Segways come to put out the inevitable blaze that has erupted, but when the fireman engage the attached firehoses they find that the water, like the Segways, refuses to fall to the ground and extinguish the blaze.

    .....wow, thank God the Segway people are stupid, or they would have brought down the country with their newest take on the clowncar....

     

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    drewmerc (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re:

    segways road rash finally a good concept for a road rash sequel

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re:

    Actually, I kind of liked the original idea, it was just WAY too expensive and WAY too impractical, for all the reasons jjmsan listed.

     

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    Tristin, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:33am

    dorky, eh?

    You won't be saying they look dorky once they come equipped with frickin' LASER BEAMS!! Woz and the Segway Polo League will be feared rather than ridiculed once production starts.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:34am

    I don't think Segway's big problem is people yelling insults out of cars. It's convenience - why would you want something that goes 12 miles per hour? It's not fast enough to get you anywhere, but just fast enough to let you swallow bugs while you ride. And it would be useless in any rural town, where the sidewalks are too bumpy for travel. It's a neat gimmick, but for most people, cars and bicycles make a lot more sense.

     

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    Bob, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re:

    Dark Helmet rules!!!

     

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    Ryan, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:40am

    Re: Re:

    That sounds...awesome!

     

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    Trails, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:43am

    No market penetration strategy

    The segway had no real market penetration strategy.

    They didn't look for obstacles/challenges, and when they met these challenges, they had no way to deal with it.

    As Mike points out, an iterative process with the market may have helped, but they built up a ton of buz, and then released something that was totally impractical for people with minivans full of kids, strollers, etc... and already paying the lease on said mommy wagon.

    Meanwhile the Vespa is hugely popular, not any safer, but had a market penetration strategy (treat it like a motorbike).

    If segway'd arranged something with municipal legislators in advance, where segway is allowed in bike lanes, at least in large municipalities, they mmight have gained more traction.

     

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    Hulser (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:48am

    Re: Re:

    These retarded devices were supposed to be used for MASS TRANSPORTATION?

    Uh, no they weren't. You know what mass transportation means right? No one ever said that there'd be Segway buses or Segway trams. As for the rest of your little scenario, it's pretty much all a strawman argument because the Segway was never intended for highway commutes.

    Did the Segway live up to the overblown hype? No. But that had more to do with the level of hype and people like you that based on their opinions the hype rather than what Kamen and crew actually said.

    Besides, providing more examples of why the Segway sucks is missing the point of the article. It failed not because of all of these examples, but because these examples existed in the first place because Kamen believed he could release his baby, fully-formed onto the world and that he would somehow be immune the normal market forces that demand ongoing innovation.

     

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    Mechwarrior, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:49am

    Segway was a great idea for an all-terrain wheelchair. Its commercialization though was lackluster. It didnt help that Segway users looked preposterous cruising down sidewalks.

    Dean Kamen,though, does innovate ,especially in noncommercial technology like low-tech water filtration and cybernetic limbs. Check the videos of iLimb, I believe that would be considered an innovation.

    But just being innovative doesnt guarantee a product would be successful. There has to be demand or at least projected demand for it.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:57am

    Re: Re: Re:

    ....Yeah, I quoted the comment before me that said "mass transportation" (did you totally miss that?) and then ran with it to create what I considered to be a funny scenario and an outlandishly absurd scenario of what would happen if these things WERE used on the highway, but hey, maybe it was only funny to me.

    Lighten up, Hulser. It's okay to just have fun once in a while.

    Dark Helmet out...

     

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    Free Capitalist, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re:

    What Helmet said.

    I might add that its been said that the Segway died because of the dot-com bust. However its clear to me that the Segway CAUSED the dot-com bust.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 11:59am

    Why the fuss?

    A little research tells you a couple of things.

    First, Segway is doing quite fine, thank-you-very-much. They had shipped over 50,000 units by March of this year. Hardly earth-shattering, but that is $250 million in sales. Not too shabby for a brand-new product that no one had ever seen before 2001.

    Second, one of the biggest problems with Segway was local laws. Segways are still illegal on the streets and sidewalks of some states. The same people voting for red light cameras have probably been dragging their feet on permitting Segways on streets and sidewalks.

    Third, Segway sales are up 50% this year. We are in a major recession, that some have called a recession, and their sales are WAY UP! Failure? I have a hard time calling a company that dared to be innovative and has increased their sales MASSIVELY during a major recession a failure. Over-hyped, maybe, but failure? The only people declaring Segway a failure are those who like to use it as an example of something that it is not. I bet these same people would have been laughing at the Wright brothers. Incidentally, a lot fewer airplanes were sold in the first 8 years of the life of the airplane than Segways in a similar time frame.

    Segways may be relatively expensive, but they are selling fairly well and are continuing to build a market. I consider the Segway to be a concept whose future has yet to be determined. Segway is no more a failure than Techdirt is.

    Patents are neither the reason for selling 50,000 units nor are they the reason for ONLY 50,000 units, as anyone examining Segway's business model would quickly see.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Who needs a segway ...

    Who needs a segway when you have a mig welder, an old metal frame lazyboy with a cup holder, and parts from a riding mower ...

     

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    Fatduck (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Why the fuss?

    Those things cost $5,000?

    *head explodes*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Why the fuss?

    Reading is fun.

    "Failed to reshape the world" != "Failed."

     

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    TPBer (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:33pm

    12 MPH

    What a slow piece of crap. I ride a road bike almost everywhere and @ 12MPH I would get nowhere, plus it's legal, good exercise, and doesn't need a freekin recharge. I average about 18-20 MPH and only require a protein bar every hour or so.

    Plus riding a Segway really does make you look dorky and out of place. Like people need another reason to be lazy. There's enough obesity out there without some fat ass going 12 MPH to the local "Fill in any Fat Food Name".

     

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    Braden Kelley, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Video Interview with Dean Kamen on this topic

    I recorded an interesting video interview with Dean Kamen on this very topic. Check it out! :-)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Re: 12 MPH

    Yeah, so instead of spending $5,000 on a Segway, spend $7,000 on a Foré CR5.

     

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    OldGuy, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    If you have ever tried one...

    The thing is, once you have tried one, you want to do it again and again. They are FUN, and after a while feel so natural that you forget that you are riding around on an expensive piece of equipment.

    I think a good number of the people who ride them in those rental-tour things would say they would buy one, then you tell them how much they cost...

    That's the deal - there would've been a lot more penetration had the price been reasonable. The average person would rather walk than buy something for $5,000 that basically replaces walking (or perhaps biking). How many people would be willing to spend $5,000 on a bike?

     

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    Hulser (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    did you totally miss that?

    Yep. Didn't realize that jjmsan was the one who had the "mass transportation" thing wrong.


    and then ran with it to create what I considered to be a funny scenario and an outlandishly absurd scenario of what would happen if these things WERE used on the highway

    What irks me is that most people thought that scenarios like yours were a natural result of what Kamen was proposing when in fact he was saying no such thing. There was no shortage of hypberbole coming out of the Kamen camp, but to my recollection he never suggested that the Segway would be used for anything more than short distances i.e. longer than what you could conveniently walk and shorter than you'd really need to drive.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    Re: 12 MPH

    The biggest advantage to the Segway is that it lets you get on and off quickly, and is more maneuverable than a bicycle in crowds.

    I have watched security and runners use Segways at several trade shows and talked with them about how they compare to walking and bicycles. The Segway lets them be a little higher than the crowd for better visibiity, and they can get on and off FAR easier than from a bicycle; a serious advantage if they have to move fast.

    Segways can just about turn on a dime, which is possible on a bicycle, but only for expert cyclists. Most cyclists have to stop and turn their bicycle when they hit a blockage. A Segway spins and backs, avoiding clusters of people at trade shows and on side walks.

    Incidentally, the people doing the parking meters love them compared to their motorized carts, they are cheaper to operate, and more reliable.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: 12 MPH

    "Incidentally, the people doing the parking meters..."

    For the love of Christ, PLEASE don't get me started...

     

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    Hulser (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Why the fuss?

    Segway is no more a failure than Techdirt is.

    I couldn't agree more that many people view the Segway as a failure in terms of the overblown hype that came out before its unveiling. Nothing short of the second coming could have lived up to that hype. But I think that even Kamen would agree that the Segway has failed to live up to his own expectations. This is what I think Mike is talking about with the invention versus ongoing innovation point.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:02pm

    They have caught on in the Phoenix area for police and security guards. Thanks to Paul Blart: Mall Cop everytime I see one of them riding one I think of PB doing his "tricks" video on one.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:05pm

    People look dorky on them? Is this a serious complaint?

    I recently spoke to a security guard at a casino about his Segway. He said they increase his range of vision. Being 18" higher than the crowd allows them to see a large area in the casino. He said they offer increased visibility. Being seen is a big part of deterrence. The 12 MPH top speed is overkill in almost any indoor environment (unless we are talking aircraft hanger and football stadium sized places).

    Failed as transportation for the average city dweller? Yes. But I wouldn't say they failed. Failure to live up to unrealistic expectations does not mean you failed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Ohhhhhh...From that viewpoint, the Toyota Titan is a failure. Apple computers are a failure too. I wonder how many other things have failed to live up to the hype, and yet seem to be doing just fine?

    On the other hand, Toyota was focused on PATENTS when it came to the Prius, and has been the most successful hybrid in its class built to date. If they had been focused on innovation it is hard to imagine where they might have been (my guess, probably about where they are - no need to be innovative when you have no real competition, though Ford's Fusion beats the Prius in just about every way except for being gas mileage champ).

     

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    Jim, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    Re: dorky, eh?

    You won't think they're dorky when you get a load of this!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    There really was a huge dork effect. I recently saw a guy, a nerdy computer-programmer type, standing on his Segway, waiting on the platform for the next subway train. He was making hey-baby eyes at me, and I couldn't get away from him fast enough.

     

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    Jeff, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:19pm

    Here is a good reason why it failed:

     

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    Jacob, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    They were always dorky, until Ken Block did donuts around one in his STI. Now they're still dorky, but in a cooler way.

    Seriously though, when they come out with an off-road AZ segway there might be uses. Except I can walk faster. Or use a regular bike, or get a crotch rocket, or any other 1000 alternatives that aren't retarded.

     

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    NullOp, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Soon....

    Soon as we get everything paved these will make a lot more sense. New Jersey is trying to lead the way with the paving...

     

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    DS, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 1:39pm

    No, they think your smug because you just dropped a crap load of money on something that replaces walking. Go buy a skateboard, I'd have more respect for you. Go buy a scooter, I'd have more respect for you.

    Granted, I fully understand how there might be a professional use/advantage to a Segway, but for everyone else, not only do you look like a motorized Zombie, but we all know that you spent a crap load of money to do it.

     

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    Freedom, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 2:04pm

    Too Expensive ...

    The initial cost is fairly high, but the thing that stops me is the high cost of battery replacement and the propriety nature of the batteries. I can handle the one time capital expense, but I really did not want high acquisition costs combined with high maintenance costs.

    The reason you've seen a sales increase in a recession is because people think that for short trips they can use this instead and if they can replace a car it might make sense especially since registration and personal property taxes/car registration aren't probably needed for the Segway.

    I frankly think a Vespa would be more practical but you are going to be laughed at on either one.

    The only way these units would succeed to change the world is if the infrastructure (i.e. dedicated lanes on the road, dedicated "segway" walkways, etc.) were already in place. How anyone could have thought otherwise is surprising. This in turn goes back to the original comment which in my words is "just because something is cool doesn't mean it is useful - the key to success is being able to implement the idea in the real world."

    Freedom

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 2:16pm

    More than anything, the Segway is the reason why you have inventors (and patents) that normally sell them on to marketers. It isn't a question of innovation, it's a question of developing the product to match the actual potential markets.

    Very few of us have $5000 lying around to pay for what is really just an assistance to walking. It isn't immensely practical, there is nowhere to park it, etc.

    The real marketplace for these things is large factories, where they currently use things like bicycles or golf carts, airport security, etc. The inventor aimed the product at exactly the wrong market, and got pretty much what any company gets when they don't identify, segement, and approach their market accordingly.

    It's also an expensive technology that is nice to play with but has few practical applications.

     

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    George, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 2:19pm

    They weren't successful becuase the distance they can go in comfort is short enough to walk and to short to be of any benefit for real commuters.

    If people are screaming about electric cars not being good enough becuase they only have a range of 200 MILES why would anyone spend thousands on an uncovered not temperature controlled unseated "commuter" device with a range of 10's of miles?

    The other big reason they weren't accepted is the same reason it so hard for many improvements to be accepted now - legislative restrictions. If you could ride powered vehicles on sidewalks then motorscooters and even powered rollerskates and skateboards would be much more accepted becuase people would perceive them as safer.
    Segway didn't invent cool little motorized personal transpo devices. They have existed for years but are regulated out of use.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 2:24pm

    Re:

    You are missing the point. They have sold more than 50,000. They are now legal in 31 states, possibly more at this point. In fact, they are accepted in the environments that are perfect for their use, including malls, factories, and meeting halls. There are now places to rent them in many tourist locations. I think they have been marvelously successful.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:04pm

    Re:

    Exactly. Not only were they dorky, they were impractical as well.

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What irks me is that most people thought that scenarios like yours were a natural result of what Kamen was proposing

    Huh? Now you're the one making stuff up.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:13pm

    Re: Why the fuss?

    Not too shabby for a brand-new product that no one had ever seen before 2001.

    This is 2009. They are hardly "brand-new" any more.

    Segway is no more a failure than Techdirt is.

    Stock much?

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Ohhhhhh...From that viewpoint, the Toyota Titan is a failure. Apple computers are a failure too.

    Not exactly. I don't know about the Toyota Titan, but I do know Apple Computer has done far, far better than it's founders originally envisioned. Are you just trolling or what?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:23pm

    Re:

    Failure to live up to unrealistic expectations does not mean you failed.

    It means you failed to meet expectations. That's failure. Period. There's no such thing as failure without expectations.

     

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    Bob Kerns (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:23pm

    Darned Useful Device

    I have to Dean Kamen inventions which have changed my life.

    The first is my insulin pump. Yes, he got his start by inventing the first wearable insulin pump. No doubt patent protection helped him get enough money out of that to fund his later work, including the iBot wheelchair, and then derived from that, the Segway.

    I have a neurological condition that impairs my walking. For me, the Segway is life changing because now I can move around freely, doing most of the things y'all do, and some things better.

    Well, I can't skate anymore, and I can't climb rugged mountain trails, but you'd be surprised by where I CAN go, and what I CAN do.

    First, legality: There are no states where they are illegal. There are 45 states which have laws that classify you as a pedestrian when you use one. Some of those states allow local cities to regulate their use on the sidewalk, but they're not banned anywhere in the US.

    Second, utility: I live in Marin, and can get most anywhere in the SF Bay Area, with a combination of Segway and public transit. That's the mode they were really designed for -- local, and extended with transit. I was down on the Stanford campus yesterday, no car involved. Once I was there, I had my Segway for getting around.

    I put about 2400 miles on my Segway in the last year. It would be more, but I do have a young daughter I drive around; the Segway doesn't address that so well. (I can tow a wagon, but Caltrans puts puts barriers between me and anywhere that make that relatively impractical).

    It's a lot more fun, and generally a lot more practical for my surburban trips, than getting out the car.

    Finally, this "lazy" meme: This is just crazy talk. I hear it all the time -- typically from people sitting on their rears in a gasoline-powered SUV. In the meantime, here I am, standing -- got that, bicyclists, STANDING -- for distances far greater than most of you would be willing to walk. And I'm carrying a backpack, often with 50 pounds of groceries.

    People with Segways don't walk any less. I get MORE exercise now that I have a Segway, and I think that's typical. People with Segways drive less, or sit on their couches less.

    We're out there, interacting with other people we meet on the way. Bicyclists don't do that nearly to the same degree; it's work to stop, or detour, to talk to someone, and you have this bike between your legs. (But we're more alike than different, really, compared to the folks in the cars!)

    And we're out there with nature.

    Failure is a funny word. I'm sure the initial investors, investing on the basis of unrealistic projections of instant mass adoption, consider it a failed investment. Rightfully so, by their lights.

    Those like myself who actually OWN one, consider it a smashing success. As do those who try it. My mother (a 76-year-old great grandmother in a retirement community in a small town in the Ozarks) tried mine -- and went out and bought her own.

    Yes, there are difficulties. It does tend to attract attention. By far, mostly of the positive variety. The occasional knuckle-dragger comment does come my way, but can be ignored. But if you're looking to fit in and not stand out from the crowd, a Segway is probably not for you -- at this time.

    And where to put it? They do come with locks (as an option). And the key is electronic and coded, so stealing a Segway isn't going to get the thief anything he can use. Thieves have been caught, by trying to get a key made for a stolen Segway. So that isn't really as big a problem as it seems. (Sure, there ARE places I wouldn't leave one -- the same places I wouldn't leave an expensive bike locked up).

    To my mind, the biggest barrier to acceptance has been ignorant reactions. People look at it, don't understand it, and make all kinds of knee-jerk reactions. Like the SF City council assuming it would run out-of-control on their steep hills. Not true: I've stood on the steepest of SF streets, on my Segway, with both hands on my camera, capturing a photograph of one of those "Prevent Runaways -- Curb Your Wheels" signs. Segways do NOT pick up speed going down a hill. They can't -- you'd fall over backwards. They actually slow going down the steep hills!

    Or Ronit Bryant, Counilwoman of Mountain View, CA, which recently joined the SF City council in this sort of knee-jerk reaction. Provocation -- one Segway using the trails, no compaints, no incidents, no problems. But gotta stop the bad Segways. Meanwhile, bicycles are legal on MV sidewalks. Hello? A device designed for safe use in crowds gets canned?

    It is this sort of knee-jerk reaction that has deterred buyers. It's not surprising, the actual behavior of a Segway isn't obvious just looking at it of from a description.

    But I find that more and more people I meet have actually tried one, typically on a tour, occasionally they know somebody with one, and occasionally I'll encounter another Segway rider.

    Without fail -- these people are excited to see someone on a Segway, and eager to tell me how much fun they had and and how much they like them. And how easy it was to learn to use. And they want one. They may not be willing to shell out $5K, but they want one.

    So finally, there is the price. That problem is over-rated, but real. People DO spend $5K on a bike. They'll spend far more than that on a more expensive car than they need -- often $20K extra over the price of a new Prius, even. Nobody yells "lazy" at them -- I don't know why! Nobody ridicules them for spending so much money -- I don't know why!

    Yet, if economics is your primary concern, then at the current price point, a Segway only wins if you can replace a car with it. Or a wheelchair -- power chairs can be much more expensive, especially with similar range and speed.

    But when you look at the whole picture -- environment, exercise, connecting with people on the street, interacting with nature, ability to extend your range, and just plain fun -- the Segway comes out looking pretty good. I would consider mine a good investment, even were it not for my need for basic mobility.

    In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. That's success. Period.

     

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  45.  
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    CleverName, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:33pm

    My Name is Earl

    Anyone else see the episode of "My Name is Earl" where Mimi from Drew Carey was in a spoof of Cops ? Mimi was a cop driving a police segway. She was explaining how she got in the force when she gets a call and joins in a pursuit of a perp. Turns on the lights and siren ... it was frickinhilarious !

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 7:58pm

    Re:

    Go buy a skateboard, I'd have more respect for you. Go buy a scooter, I'd have more respect for you.

    Here's a motorized self-balancing one-wheeled scooter/skateboard.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re:

    You are missing the point. They have sold more than 50,000.

    That's all? In 8 years? Even of those, I wonder how many they sold at a sharply reduced to prices to gov't agencies in a desperate attempt to buy some legitimacy.

    In fact, they are accepted in the environments that are perfect for their use, including malls, factories, and meeting halls. There are now places to rent them in many tourist locations.

    I've yet to see one except in the media or with a gov't employee riding it. In the private business sector, where things need to make actual economic sense, they seem to be pretty rare.

    I think they have been marvelously successful.

    I think they've been a joke.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    Re: Re:

    "You are missing the point. They have sold more than 50,000."

    There are over 9 million horses in the US, thus proving that horses are way better than Segways. Oh, and horses were self-balancing way before the Segway too.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 9:18pm

    Re: Darned Useful Device

    I have a neurological condition that impairs my walking. For me, the Segway is life changing because now I can move around freely, doing most of the things y'all do, and some things better.

    Sounds like an electric wheelchair. I glad you found something to help you with your disability, but that doesn't mean everybody needs one.

    People with Segways don't walk any less.

    Now wait a minute. I thought you said you had a medical condition that impaired your walking. But now you're saying that rather than walking less, the Segway actually makes you walk more? Sorry, that just doesn't make sense.

    Being so eager to make positive statements about a product that you wind up contradicting yourself like that is a hallmark of a shill in my book. As far as I'm concerned, you've just outed yourself, Mr. Shill, and I'm not even going to bother with the rest of your probably fabricated (but I'm sure all-so-positive) post.

     

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  50.  
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    Bill, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 9:59pm

    Re: Darned Useful Device

    "People DO spend $5K on a bike."

    I've got news for you: not most people.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 10:32pm

    Self Balancing ONE Wheel Vehicle

    The self balancing unicycle:
    http://tlb.org/eunicycle.html

    Of course, the Segway lobbyists have worked hard to keep this and other electric skateboards and mobility scooters outlawed on the streets and sidewalks of many states while carving out exemptions for themselves. Same old story: If you can't compete on a level playing field, then use the gov't to restrict your competition.

     

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  52.  
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    step back, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 3:55am

    Dictionary Dirt Takeover

    Since when has Tech Dirt taken over the Dictionaries?

    Innovation is the nominalized form of "to innovate", in other words, to come up with something new.

    Patentable inventions are a subset of the large notion of "innovation". In order for an innovation to be patentable, it must further be novel, useful, nonobvious and within one of the statutory classes set forth in patent law section, 35 USC 101.

    Kudos to Anonymous Coward for confronting the illogic and false facts methods of TechDirt. As is too often the case, TechDirt uses false definitions, false facts and appeal to irrationality in order to make its case.

    There are many patented innovations that have become hugely successful in the marketplace.

    Focusing on getting a patent has nothing to do with whether a product succeeds or fails in the marketplace.

    On the other hand, failure to pay attention to patenting your inventions often leads to financial failure for the inventor (who is always also an "innovator"). Even the hypocritical members of the Coalition for Patent [un]Fairness [and Unbalancedness] get patents for their products; and not because they "have to". They are just as free as everyone else to dedicate their inventions to the public.

    The reason that Coalition members get patents is because they are not fools. On the other hand, they want everyone else to act the part of the fool.

    So if indeed you are a fool, go ahead and avoid getting a patent for your next killer application idea. Give it away for free to the Coalition. Then hold your breath waiting for them to give you something of equal value for free in return. And remember to gloat with pride as others in the market take the profit for something that was your contribution to society while you sit there with empty pockets.

    Dean Kamen is no fool and never was.

     

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  53.  
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    step back, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 4:03am

    Hey there faker (not) Bob Kerns

    Nice web page: Spotted in the wild
    Can you parallel ski with a Segway? Cool.

     

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  54.  
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    Lawrence B. Ebert, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:37am

    The inventor can know best

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:30am

    Re: Self Balancing ONE Wheel Vehicle

    We would love it if you would share the sources of information regarding Segway lobbyists that kept the various things "outlawed."

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    That is probably true. Just like it is true that most people do not own golf carts. On the other hand, a lot of people do. Further, tens of thousands are sold every year. Given that a Segway can do a thing golf carts cannot, seems like they have their own niche to fit into, just like $5k bikes and $5 - $10k golf carts.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Horses are not appreciated on most city sidewalks, nor in any factories, and certainly not at the vast majority of trade shows. Horses are MASSIVELY bigger than a Segway, and more expensive too. Want to tell us again how they are better?

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You are missing the point. They have sold more than 50,000.

    That's all? In 8 years? Even of those, I wonder how many they sold at a sharply reduced to prices to gov't agencies in a desperate attempt to buy some legitimacy.

    For an entirely new product never seen before, in that price range, that seems like a lot to me.

    However, since you have brought up this issue of "reduced" prices, how about some evidence to back it up?

    In fact, they are accepted in the environments that are perfect for their use, including malls, factories, and meeting halls. There are now places to rent them in many tourist locations.

    I've yet to see one except in the media or with a gov't employee riding it. In the private business sector, where things need to make actual economic sense, they seem to be pretty rare.

    Get out much? I have seen them in Louisville, and in Chicago Malls, and in Monterey, California. I have seen news reports that state that 125 law enforcement agencies are using Segways. Though I have not seen them, I know they are for rent in Washington, D.C., and in other east coast cities, along with Paris and Vienna. Do you live under a rock?

    I think they have been marvelously successful.

    I think they've been a joke.

    I think you are a joke.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:40am

    Re: Darned Useful Device

    Well said!

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:44am

    Re: Re:

    roflmao...then 99% of everything is not successful. Be real. Undoubtedly, YOU failed to meet expectations at various points in your life. YOU ARE A FAILURE.

    Here is a question: Would you consider the diesel engine a failure?

    Okay, trick question. The diesel engine did not meet expectations in terms of sales until World War II, decades after it was first introduced. The wide acceptance of the diesel by the military woke people to the benefits of diesel engines, and suddenly they were MASSIVELY successful. Just because something fails to meet initial expectations does not mean it is a failure. It may well mean that the expectations were set too high.

     

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  61.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Toyota built the Titan to compete with the F-150. The F-150's market share continues to grow, and the Tundra has perhaps 3% of the market. Hmmm...according to others here, that is failure to meet expectations - which is FAILURE. lol...not that I believe that, but there you have it.

    Apple has done better than its founders envisioned, but then again, how many times has Apple's expectations exceeded its success? Remember the Lisa, among others? Apple has frequently set expectations they have not met.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Eight years old for a new product is still "brand-new." How about diesel engines, which took four or five DECADES before real market success? How about airplanes, that took twenty years for initial practicality, and another decade or so before commercial flights began to be considered routine. How about microwaves, that were first created in the 1950's, but took until the 1980's to achieve widespread success.

    Please, 8 years is hardly a true test.

     

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  63.  
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    bshock, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Just adding to the chorus

    In software terms, we would say that the Segway didn't really have a use case. Kamen would've been better off getting requirements from users (asked or observed), and then designing something that fit these requirements.

    But that's just another way of stating what has already been said.

     

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  64.  
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    Janderson, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Re:

    jjmsan, are you talking about a bicycle, or a Segway? Could be either.......

     

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  65.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:50pm

    If You Can't Compete, Call in the Gov't

    We would love it if you would share the sources of information regarding Segway lobbyists that kept the various things "outlawed."

    Who is this "we" you claim to speak for?
    But OK, since you asked, here's an example.

    From http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/interim/int77-11.pdf (2002)
    "This year, more than 30 state legislatures have enacted laws allowing consumers to operate high- tech “scooters” called Segways on public sidewalks, bicycle paths, and/ or roadways. Capitalizing on favorable federal regulatory treatment, makers of the Segway have lobbied for such legislation throughout the country."
    ...
    "Segway’s legislative approach has been to build credibility through business applications (use on private property is unregulated); create what it calls “moral authority” through usage by law enforcement and other public entities; hire local lobbyists and provide test rides for lawmakers; and press for legislation to authorize the use of Segways on sidewalks."
    ...
    "In Texas, Segway expects to have a bill prefiled and routed to committees dealing with public safety"

    And they did. Here's what their prewritten law turned out to define as exempted:
    (I'll even use a Segway promotional site at http://texassegway.com/Texas_Segway/Seg_Law.html)
    ELECTRIC PERSONAL ASSISTIVE MOBILITY DEVICES
    Sec. 551.201. DEFINITION. In this subchapter, "electric personal assistive mobility device" means a two non-tandem wheeled device designed for transporting one person that is:
    (1) self-balancing; and
    (2) propelled by an electric propulsion system with an average power of 750 watts or one horsepower.
    Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1318, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

    Notice how the "two non-tandem wheeled" bit rules out most skate boards, scooters, and even electric skates. The "self-balancing" part further narrowed it to the Segway (especially at the time) and the "750 watts" really targets the Segway's specifications. There's no legitimate purpose for those specific limitations and they're only there to restrict competition to the Segway. The act then goes on to describe how such specifically described devices can be operated on both roadways and sidewalks which, of course, most of the competition can't.

    It reminds me of a cartoon I saw one time about an internal job opening posted on a company bulletin board that went something like this:

    "Applicant requirements: Must be between 5'11" and 5'11.5" tall, have brown hair, blue eyes, be named 'Bob' and have driven a red Ford pickup to work for the last year. All qualified applicants may apply."

    Someone reading the notice commented "Gee, do you think maybe they have somebody specific in mind?"

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Horses are not appreciated on most city sidewalks, nor in any factories, and certainly not at the vast majority of trade shows. Horses are MASSIVELY bigger than a Segway, and more expensive too.

    No kidding, Sherlock. Did you figure that out on your own or did you have to go look it up?

    Want to tell us again how they are better?

    I guess the point went right over your head. If 9,000,000 doesn't prove that something is a great success in the market, then 50,000 sure doesn't (even if you limit it to self-balancing personal transportation).

     

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  67.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    However, since you have brought up this issue of "reduced" prices, how about some evidence to back it up?

    Someone states that they wonder about something and you demand evidence to prove that they wondered about it? Their statement that they wondered about it is unacceptable to you? Just what kind of evidence to you demand to prove someone's thoughts? Well, here's another thought for you: I think you're an idiot. You want proof that I think that? Tough. Are all Segway fans as idiotic as yourself? People like you are a good reason for others to not to be seen on one: they don't want to be associated with idiots.

    I have seen news reports that state that 125 law enforcement agencies are using Segways.

    Are you trying to refute what was said about "media" and "gov't employees" are agree with it? "News reports" come from the news "media". Look up "media" if you don't know what it means. And here's another shocker for you: law enforcement agencies are gov't agencies and the people working for them are indeed "gov't employees".

    Do you live under a rock?

    The one you apparently hit your head on when you fell off your Segway?

    I think you are a joke.

    Think what you will but I know you've certainly made me chuckle.

     

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  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Eight years old for a new product is still "brand-new."

    Ha, ha, ha! Hey, I'd like to sell you a "brand new" car. It's only 8 years old!

    Man, no wonder we make fun of people on Segways. With people like you on them, being seen riding one of those things is worse than riding the "short bus" to school. Not exactly an image most people want.

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Remember the Lisa, among others?

    Yeah, sure do. Apple as a company is not a failure, but the Lisa as a product sure was. Way to prove the opposite point you were trying to make. So tell me, how deep a hole can you dig for yourself and still ride your Segway out of it?

     

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  70.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 1:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Undoubtedly, YOU failed to meet expectations at various points in your life.

    Err, yes I've had failures in my life and didn't claim otherwise either. Straw-man much? But that is not to say that I have failed to meet overall expectations. Of course, I didn't go around making the kind of boastful predictions that Kamen and company did either. They set their own bar by doing that.

    YOU ARE A FAILURE.

    In what way? You certainly seem to think you know a lot about me, yet you don't even know me. That's classic "Segway rider" delusional thinking.

    Just because something fails to meet initial expectations does not mean it is a failure. It may well mean that the expectations were set too high.

    Ha! It that what you told your teachers in school? "I didn't fail that test: your expectations were just too high! If you throw out all the questions I missed, I'm sure you'll see I did just fine!"

     

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  71.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Dictionary Dirt Takeover

    Since when has Tech Dirt taken over the Dictionaries?

    Since they bought them all. What, you didn't know about that? [/sarcasm]

    Innovation is the nominalized form of "to innovate", in other words, to come up with something new.

    Talk about making up definitions, you didn't provide a reference one. Well, here's one (of many) for you then, especially as applied to business:
    The term innovation refers to a new way of doing something. It may refer to incremental, radical, and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organizations. A distinction is typically made between invention, an idea made manifest, and innovation, ideas applied successfully.
    -- (Mckeown, Max (2008). The Truth About Innovation. Pearson / Financial Times. ISBN 0273719122.)

    Patentable inventions are a subset of the large notion of "innovation".

    You're applying faulty logic (i.e. Segway logic). Just because innovations can include inventions, that does make them the same thing. Just as "pets" can include "snakes", but that does not make all snakes "pets". If you think it does, I suggest you stay far away from rattlesnakes. Or on second thought, go ahead, pet one, and improve the gene pool.

    Dean Kamen is no fool and never was.

    I can't say the same for Segway investors.

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why the fuss?

    Except, the Segway as a product has not failed. Sales are way up, the company is making money. Where is the failure? The ONLY failure thus far is that they overstated their expected affect on the world. Big deal. Obama has already done that. Is he a failure too?

     

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  73.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 5:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Let's think. Horses have had a million years to become a market force. Segways have had eight years. I think you do not have a point. Why not compare bicycles and space flight, that would make about as much sense.

     

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  74.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 5:27pm

    Re: If You Can't Compete, Call in the Gov't

    You proved that Segway has lobbied for changes in the law to permit the use of their device. You have yet to link that lobbying to lobbying against the devices you mentioned. Care to try again?

     

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  75.  
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    BobKerns (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:02pm

    Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    Well, since I identify myself, and you can readily search for my name and identity on the internet--even back to the 1970's, and I even provide you a link to my personal blog... while you remain "Anonymous Coward", your charge of shill rings -- shrill?

    You'd rather willfully misunderstand so you can harass, rather than understand the point being made. Isn't that the mark of a troll?

    I know, I shouldn't feed the trolls.

    Because I have a Segway, I can do things that I just couldn't do before. It is replacing car trips, and trips not made, because of my condition. Therefore, it is not making me walk less. I'm doing more. I'm getting more exercise. Is that simple enough for you? I doubt anyone but you sees a contradiction there -- and I doubt you do either.

    Yes, I am calling you a liar. I think you just see a chance to make up a contradiction and harass, Mr. Troll.

     

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  76.  
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    BobKerns (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 7:42pm

    Re: If You Can't Compete, Call in the Gov't

    You're misreading the situation, but at least you're citing sources.

    You state: "There's no legitimate purpose for those specific limitations and they're only there to restrict competition to the Segway." -- which clearly identifies your assumptions.

    Your assumption are wrong, however. There IS legitimate purpose, because a Segway is NOT the same as those devices. For example, in Federal Highway Administration testing, the Segway could stop much faster than these other devices. In fact, the only device that could stop in less distance was a manual wheelchair -- which is much slower, of course.

    Segways are more maneuverable as well, and are designed without hard projections, and with soft tires, specifically for safety around pedestrians.

    Now, you could make a point that the other devices aren't so dangerous as to deserve the blanket bans, and can be used responsibly. And I'd agree with you! But this is what the legislatures were willing to go with.

    Note that these acts do NOT ban the other devices. They were ALREADY banned. They just recognize that Segways are safe in this environment. This is not some evil act of Segway, Inc. One has to ask -- if Segway, Inc. could get these laws passed -- why couldn't the much larger, much better established lobbies for the other devices obtain similar results for themselves?

    The bicycle industry and lobby are much larger -- and have made major improvements in our non-automobile infrastructure. But for whatever reason, they either haven't targeted this issue, or they haven't succeeded. I suspect a bit of each, because bicycles AREN'T as generally safe in mixed environments. I don't think we need a ban, but I'm not making the rules.

    (Note that in some places, they ARE allowed -- Mountain View, CA, for example, allows bicycles but not Segways on the sidewalks).

    And yes, they did have someone in mind with this legislation -- but it is carefully written to NOT specify a brand, but rather general characteristics. The Segway top speed is limited to 12.5 to fit within what the government would accept in this environment -- they could go faster. I've heard 15 MPH was the original design speed, though I can't back that up with anything solid.

    In California, only the i2 (and similar earlier models) fit within the legal definition, the x2 (and similar earlier models -- the off-road models) do not, and thus do NOT fall under the corresponding exemption. This is due to a combination of Highway Patrol opposition to the slightly larger size, and intended purpose -- Segway Inc, didn't oppose the additional restriction because it isn't how they intended it to be used.

    So the CA specification specifies a maximum width just larger than an i2, but much smaller than an x2. Thus, the detailed description comes not from Segway, Inc. trying to exclude competitors, but from the legislative desire to:

    1) Not discriminate against others that might come along with similar characteristics.

    2) Exclude similar things with characteristics which might push the envelope more than the legislature was comfortable with.

     

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    Icarus, Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:02pm

    The real problems

    I think there were 3 big problems..

    1. the hype. When it was hyped so much and didn't live up to the hype people resented the whole thing

    2. it cost way too mcuh money. Kamen was used to amking medical devices.. he built the Cadillac of scooters rather than the Model T of scooters.

    3. He marketed the product to the wrong people. He wanted to market it as a safe people mover... he should have marketed it to the extreme games segment of the population and the by product would have been the adoption by the greater population.

     

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  78.  
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    BobKerns (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:07pm

    Not fast enough?

    It's fast enough that my odometer reads 2,386 miles. Never swallowed a bug in that time, though I've collided with a few butterflies. (They seem to fare OK, to my surprise).

    Cars are hugely expensive, and often hard to park, give you no exercise, are an environmental disaster -- but have their place.

    Bikes are a great option, but can't go in all the same places a Segway can. Often they're a better choice. If biking works for you, I'm all for it. But often people don't want to be all sweaty, or need to carry more cargo, or want to be free to stop and enjoy the sites or a conversation, or need to mingle with crowds. In these cases, a Segway will fare better.

    Bikes aren't much, if any, faster in these circumstances.

    And bumpy sidewalks? Segways do pretty well on them. The big soft tires really help. They do pretty well on gravel roads, and reasonably-well-maintained fire roads, and a lot of other off-road scenarios -- even the non-offroad version.

    And yes, even OK on 10 feet of hard snowpack. How do you think a bike would do? (Though I think most would prefer skis or skimobile...)

     

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  79.  
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    BobKerns (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    I didn't say "most people". Most people don't buy Segways, either. But 50,000 of them have been sold.

    I'd be willing to bet that more than that number of $5,000 bikes have been sold.

    I'm just saying the market exists. The market would certainly be a lot larger if the price were in the ballpark of $3500 -- which it was for a few days until yesterday, in a very short and not-well-publicized summer sale.

    But even if they cost $300, I don't know if they'd outsell bikes. We take them for granted now, but bicycles are a pretty cool invention, and have had about 150 years of innovation and refinement.

     

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  80.  
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    BobKerns (profile), Aug 1st, 2009 @ 8:30pm

    Re: Dictionary Dirt Takeover

    Just for linguistic clarity: I suggest consulting Merriam-Webster, and taking the first definition for each term as how it is being used here. Also see for reference the first definition for the word 'innovate', ibid.

    I don't know enough about the Coalition to comment on your point there. And I did find something jarring about how they're using the terms -- but I can't quite put my finger on it, and it doesn't seem they're actually rewriting the dictionary.

    I certainly would agree that Dean Kamen is no fool!

     

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  81.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: Dictionary Dirt Takeover

    Just for linguistic clarity: I suggest consulting Merriam-Webster, and taking the first definition...

    "Just for linguistic clarity", when using terms in the discussion of a particular filed of study, it is usual practice to use those terms as they are defined in that field. Is that too difficult for you to understand? I suspect not, but rather that you are purposely trying to find definitions to suit your agenda instead. That's misleading and dishonest, but you've been shown to be that already.

    Now if you want to try to use the first definitions listed at M-W to equate "innovate" and "invent" anyway, then I suggest you at least look them both up first. They aren't the same. What, you didn't think anyone would check? Think again.

    "Just for linguistic clarity" indeed.

     

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  82.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 1:34pm

    Re: Re: If You Can't Compete, Call in the Gov't

    Your assumption are wrong, however. There IS legitimate purpose, because a Segway is NOT the same as those devices. For example, in Federal Highway Administration testing, the Segway could stop much faster than these other devices. In fact, the only device that could stop in less distance was a manual wheelchair -- which is much slower, of course.

    Well, I'd sure like to see that study. Being an engineer with some understanding of the physics involved, I'd particularly like to see exactly which other devices were tested because I suspect you're misrepresenting things yet again.

    Segways are more maneuverable as well, and are designed without hard projections, and with soft tires, specifically for safety around pedestrians.

    More maneuverable than all other devices? Without any evidence for that, I'd say you're blowing smoke again. And having soft tires does not make them unique either.

    One has to ask -- if Segway, Inc. could get these laws passed -- why couldn't the much larger, much better established lobbies for the other devices obtain similar results for themselves?

    Yes. That might lead one to conclude that exemptions for the Segway are based more on "lobbying" and "political donations" than actual merit. Perhaps people should question some of the politicians involved.

    1) Not discriminate against others that might come along with similar characteristics.

    All "qualified applicants", just like in the cartoon mentioned above, huh?

     

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  83.  
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    Queen of England, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    "Well, since I identify myself, and you can readily search for my name and identity on the internet--even back to the 1970's, and I even provide you a link to my personal blog..."

    Hi, I suppose it's time I quit being anonymous. I'm the Queen of England and you can readily search for my name and identity on the internet. Here's a link to my website to prove it's me. http://www.royal.gov.uk

     

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  84.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    Therefore, it is not making me walk less. I'm doing more. I'm getting more exercise. Is that simple enough for you? I doubt anyone but you sees a contradiction there -- and I doubt you do either.

    You wish. I think most people can see the contradiction. It seems that you're probably either being dishonest about your condition or about the the use of the Segway. One or the other.

    Yes, I am calling you a liar.

    Your options were to either confess, clam-up or continue lying. I'm not at all surprised you choose the latter. That hole's getting a little deeper all the time, isn't it?

     

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  85.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 2nd, 2009 @ 5:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Darned Useful Device

    No matter how low the price, the question of the segway ends up it's true usefulness in real life.

    Where do you park it?
    Where does a condo owner put it to charge it?
    Can you take it on the bus / subway?
    Does it fit in the back of your car, and can you actually lift it?

    In the end, it is a very specialized product (similar in many ways to the wheelchairs that inspired it) that has some use for some people, but isn't a world changer as the inventor tried to paint it.

    If the production of the segway stopped tomorrow, the world would not stop turning, and few people would miss it. That's the best indication of all that it isn't anything other than a narrow niche product, no matter who innovates with it.

     

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  86.  
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    cKarlGo, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 4:39am

    Why Segway failed to reshape...???

    I'll tell you why: I was interested in buying a Segway to commute to work. When I went to test drive one, the idiot dealer in National Harbor (across the Potomac from DC/Old Town Alexandria) had the nerve to want to charge me $5 for a test drive. Needless to say, Segway lost my business.

     

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  87.  
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    staff1, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 7:48am

    a shilling we will go

    Without the initial creation of a technology there can be no refining. Without patents there will be no creation for fear all your work will be stolen and you will receive no benefit from it. It's that simple. Figure it out, would you, please?

    But then, a shill is a shill. You are not trying to figure it out. It's all about dissembling.

     

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  88.  
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    Vic kley, Aug 3rd, 2009 @ 10:27am

    Why Segway DID NOT Fail...to change the world!

    Segway was and is a great idea. GMs proposed two person variant is an excellent "innovation" that may well change the impact of all electrics in city transport.

    That you can discuss it and most of us know about it makes it's impact clear.

    Its really too bad that having some hard on for inventors you cannot see th natural interdependence of one on the other. Invention then innovation.

    Is the iphone a world changing innovation? Most would agree definitely and yes!

    The iphone is chock full of inventions like the transparent touch screen an invention, and the gesture based controls both of which are now very much in the public domain (even if Apples counsel are blind to the old art).

    As long as spout untruth and attack the livelihood of small inventors you'll get the raft of negative reaction you got on this opinion piece.

     

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  89.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    i like pie

     

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  90.  
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    Alex, Feb 1st, 2010 @ 10:10am

    I dont think Segway failed to deliver. I think society failed to use the Segway.

    Its way healtier to ride standing up than sitting down (which means healthier than cars).

    Segway is still a good method of transportation. IMO the only 3 posible failures are:

    a) Price: too expensive, for such a simple item.
    b) lack of evolution. By this time, they should be able to modify the segway so you can fold it and keep it in a backback when you dont use it or ran out of power.
    c) dont fight the current. If they tell you that the segway is not good for road or sidewalk. Make one that is good for sidewalk and another one good for roads.

     

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    Sparky McGilicudy (profile), Aug 25th, 2010 @ 9:54pm

    SEGWAY X2

    I read so many of the posts and have decided only a couple people actually ride them and the rest are wanna be riders.
    I rode one for a work related event which turned into a three week riding extravaganza. Now I own a couple few and rent them out when I am not riding them with my kids. Expensive yes but I get $65 for 2 hours rental. All my segways are set to ride off road (big tires and lift kits), Very fun! I can do a three hour off road tour for $100 (50 tours and they are paid off)..I love my Mt. Bike and love the exercise but the segway is totally different level of transportation than the bike and the segway passes the bikes going up (yes up, not down) the dirt trails. I use them to get around town, go to the store, take my dog for a run, I use them at work almost everyday ( I put on events , festivals, tradeshows I rent them to branding companies with a shield for $400 a day:-) I have a trailer to tow behind my segway, they pull alot of weight(kegs)I go cruising through the forrest on my segway. The segway is super quiet- I caught some vandels breaking into my pool clubhouse and they never heard me coming.12MPH I know we are getting 14mph and good luck trying to keep up billy white shoes..I am waiting to see what the government is about to do with their high tech version that they have been playing with

     

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  92.  
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    Ivana Trump, Sep 27th, 2010 @ 6:33pm

    I want one

    I want one of these so bad. I have no idea why. Maybe if I road one once my lust would be over. However, they are only worth about 900 bucks to me. So on the Ivana scale you could double that for a new one. That would put the price at 1800. 5k is just silly. I would never pay that. I bought a 21 speed mountain bike for 120 bucks. It goes places the segway could never go. My whole family rides to lunch on these bikes. At 5k a piece I would be into Segway for 25k just to get to lunch. How can anyone wrap their heads around that number? We recently took our 5 bikes camping 3 hours away. How could I ever have transported my 5 Segways to camp? I would like to see that Segway carrier. I guess if you have a truck you could have managed it. But geez I still can't get over the 5k price. Did I mention that the price is to high. I have seen my friends buying 2k mountain bikes just to tear them up on the rocks around town. Wouldn't a 120 buck bike be more practical in that case as well? I guess what I am saying is that I would pay twice what I would pay for a good bike. If you go to Dicks you can get a good bike for 250 bucks.
    Maybe when I am older and golf every day I could buy one of these instead of a golf cart. But then I would have to golf by myself or find another dork to buy one with me.
    When the price of something is to high only professional people end up buying them, because they can use them to make money. This is what we are seeing here. Remember when a good digital camera was 4k. Only professional photographers had them. Then when the price dropped under 300 people started buying them in mass. The same thing would happen here if the price dropped to 900 bucks. The price needs to be under 1k for this thing to take off. Then it would only cost me 5k to take my family to lunch.

     

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  93.  
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    none-of-your-business, May 29th, 2011 @ 7:39pm

    waaa?

    Only an idiot would buy this -:/
    I mean seriously it's just too expensive for anyone to buy and did they really expect success for this price $6000
    NOT IN A MILLION YEARS

     

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  94.  
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    Sandy, Aug 25th, 2011 @ 10:16pm

    segway

    All the detriments of walking (exposure to weather and bugs), but none of the benefits (muscle toning, calorie burning, cardiovascular health)... what could better? Oh, and you can buy a car for a fraction of the price.

     

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  95.  
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    Segways, Jun 23rd, 2013 @ 9:41am

    Re: Re:

    You either have a small dick , your bald or both cause your a mad little fucker

     

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  96.  
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    mechanical engineer, Nov 2nd, 2013 @ 6:49am

    why segways are flawed

    The segway is basically an inverted pendulum. If you go through the math, it's an unstable system.

    It's a great controls/robotics problem for this reason, but you should not require closed loop feedback control to stabilize your machine!

     

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