Thursday, February 19, 2009

Saturn, You're On Your Own!


It seems, over the last (roughly) ten weeks, that I have been a big fan over Neal Boudette, of the Wall Street Journal. This time, it comes at a moment where bad news is the word of the day. In the restructuring plan for General Motors, they plan to cut their Saturn, Pontiac, Saab, and Hummer brands.

While the Hummer brand comes as a surprise to no one, I found it very surprising that both Pontiac and Saturn are going to be cut as well. The Saturn brand was born out of more an experience, rather than a car company. My hope for Saturn, like it was mentioned in the article, is for someone to buy the brand. Pontiac, has been known as the "Excitement" division, but lets face it, looking back, nothing really exciting has come from Pontiac since the GTO or the G8 (which was only their Australian Holden rebadged as a Pontiac (But still SWEET to drive)). As someone who has worked, albeit, indirectly, promoting GM vehicles in the past, this latest round of news is hitting as close to home as it can get.

GM must do what is necessary to survive, and by cutting brands, and eventually, more jobs, my opinion does not matter. I just hope that the funding GM receives from the government will find its way in to the right places to turn the corporation, and the country around!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Will the Kindle 2 start a Fire?

Molly Wood from cnet.com reporting from New York City, and the unveiling of the Kindle 2, overviews the second installment of the Amazon e-book reader. In continuing the process of digitizing our society, the Kindle 2 looks to improve the feature set over its predecessor.

At a price tag of $359, Amazon grants you access to over 200,000 book titles that can be bought for a fee, and unlimited free newspaper and periodicals. It also has access to a specific netowork connection called, EVDO. Free access to this network is unique because other devices that connect like Sprint mobile devices, charge monthly fees.

Using 16 shades of grey to generate text and images, the battery life has been increased, and an improved interface are also part of the new Kindle.

At the unveiling in New York, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos demonstrated the product, and then opened the stage up to Stephen King. He sat in front of an audience reading an except from his upcoming book.

I have a feeling that the Kindle 2 will help the progression of increasing the popularity of reading books on mobile devices. Eventually, I see a slew of competitors, most likely adding applications for iPhones, iPods, and smart phones. Although there will be an increase of e-book usage, the printed word will not completely obsolete.

In a video (which I would post here, however can no longer find on cnet) Stephen King talks about the Kindle and what it means to the publishing industry. To paraphrase his opinion, King states that the e-book format is just an additional channel to absorb the printed word. Much like an actual book or an audio book, it does not matter how people read/listen to a story. He knows that as long as there is a good story, then people will still be reading. Whether it will be done more through the digital realm in the future, the Kindle 2 gives us another look ahead.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Tony Borroz of Wired.com recently wrote about a competition called the Progressive Automotive X-Prize. The competition has peaked the interest of 25 entrants, all competing for the $10 million prize. The goal is to build the most fuel efficient mass production capable vehicle, in addition to a number of other criteria.

Here are a few highlights from the 70 page rule book:
  1. Must develop a fuel efficient vehicle with greater than 100 MPGe. (the e stands for equivelant. When using various fuel sources, the amount must be equivelant to one gallon of gasoline.
  2. Must meet federal safety guidelines.
  3. Must have a viable business plan allowing for 10,000 units to be produced annually at reasonable costs.
  4. Must be in production by 2014.
There will be a preliminary round held later in 2009 with a final competition scheduled in 2010. Viewing a number of the concepts that are being entered, there is a wide range of competitors and technology being used. India's Tata Motors is entering a vehicle, while some Navy and Marine buddies, who all graduated from the Navy Test Pilot School, are building their modified Honda Insight.

I look forward to following this competition when it begins. Most of the ideas or concepts that will be presented should be very realistic, and therefore, utilized either by larger corporations or give the teams funding to create them on their own. As far as fuel efficient vehicles goes, the Navy pilots are at the relatively same starting point, as the big boys at GM.

I highly recommend that you check out the link to the article to view some of the images and information about the competitors.