Value proposition

This week I learned about the Internet Light bulb. In effect, each light bulb with NXP’s “GreenChip” has its own IP address and can therefore be accessed over the internet. I know this might sound like some sort of bad light bulb joke, but it’s for real.

The advantage in potential power savings is enormous, since millions of lights programmed to follow sensible patterns of usage can vastly improve our general energy footprint.

But what fascinates me most about this is the value proposition. Only a few years ago, to have proposed such a thing would have been absurd. Light bulbs were cheap throwaway items, so the approximately $1 extra cost per bulb of the GreenChip technology would have been prohibitive in the extreme.

But light bulbs themselves have changed, thanks to innovations targeted at reducing power consumption. A new generation of light bulbs is coming out that are designed to last years, which means it’s ok for a bulb to cost $20. Suddenly that extra $1 is a very good value indeed, given its potential to allow the power to a “smart bulb” to be optimized to follow patterns of usage.

This notion that an idea seems crazy until something else changes in the technology ecosystem, and then the same idea comes to seem obvious — perhaps inevitable — is one of the fun things about our rapidly changing technology landscape.

Leave a Reply