Segway's Brilliant New Strategy? Leasing!

from the that-all-you-got? dept

Yesterday, people were talking about how the latest in a long line of CEOs for Segway is desperately looking for a "liquidity event" of some sort. Of course, for that to happen, it would help if more people were, you know, actually buying the damn balancing scooters. Apparently, someone among the Segway braintrust realized that it's a pretty tough sell when the vehicles cost about $5,000. So, their latest strategy? Leasing! Yes, it only took the company about five years to recognize that financing might make sense for pricey vehicles. Of course, among their long line of chief executives, there once was a former President of Subaru America who had planned to set up a dealer network similar to the auto industry. You would have thought the idea of dealer financing might have occurred back then as well.

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  1. identicon
    Brad, 6 Jun 2006 @ 2:32am

    Re: there is a wheelchair: the iBot

    The fundamental flaw with the iBot was that it was all engineering, no design. It used technology pilfered from numerous high school students (see FIRST competition) with little thougth to the user experience. When one was shipped out, three ENGINEERS went with it, to set up the unit and "train" users on it. The thing was priced at around $25,000 - or roughly what a mid-level Honda cost, but much more expensive to make.

    So imagine if Honda sent three of their engineers to your house when you bought a new car, and they spent two days showing you how to drive. Great customer service, but really....they could have saved a pound of cure if they'd done an ounce of product design.

    But Kamen's problem is that he regularly doesn't realize that people aren't as infinately wealthy as he is (private island), nor is every commercial device able to sell at the same price point as medical equipment (portable insulin shot - Kamen's claim to fame and big money maker).

    The guy's a great engineer, and not a bad marketer, but he's a crappy designer. Problem is, he won't hire anyone who is. Otherwise someone would have said, "Wait...$5k alternative to walking that hurts you when you go over a curb, goes slower, is prohibited in many areas, and is bulky when not in use?"

    Also: you can cut the cost of production by 90% by adding a third wheel right in the front. Maddox illustrated it best:

    Kamen still follows the .com business model.

    1) Invent cool technology
    2) ?
    3) Profit! IPO! Private Jet!

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