Creating the Jobs of Tomorrow – A Common Sense Analysis

Much is said these days about the state of the economy (booth US and world) as well as problems like persistent unemployment, the increasing number of people on entitlement programs, etc. Many people wonder aloud about where the jobs of tomorrow will come from and what kind of future and economy their children will live in. If you stop and think about it logically, the problem is actually much overblown and the analysis starts with this simple picture. On the left is a flip-style phone common up until about 2007, when the first generation iPhone was introduced. On the right is a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone. The phone on the left is prepaid and costs about $20 per month. The phone on the right is under contract and costs roughly $50 per month. Given the price difference, you would think most people would avoid the phone on the right, but you’d be wrong. The question then becomes: why do people pay more for the phone on the right?¬†Answer: the phone on the right allows you to do much more stuff than the phone on the left. In other words, people pay more for the phone on the right because it is more useful than the phone on the left. This leads to the first big lesson: People pay more for things that are more useful to them. This should not come as a surprise if you think generally about why people spend money. Regardless of what you buy — a car, a sandwich, a vacation to Bora Bora — you spend money in order to solve a problem. The...

Relevacy Costs

I’m sure all of us have witnessed a moment when, for example, an older person gets confused about a piece of technology. For example, it might be a parent or elderly relative who can’t use a cell phone or computer. A similar type of confusion/intimidation occurs when, for instance, a young person (e.g. the stereotypical high school jock) walks in to a school library. The reasons for the confusion can be varied. For instance, perhaps the technology is relatively new and given the older person’s age, this is literally the first time in their life that they’ve had to use it before. Another circumstance is if the older person has used a similar device in the past, but the device has been upgraded now to include so many more features that it becomes too confusing. A modern cell phone, for example, that is also a camera, text messaging device, email device, GPS, and web-surfing device is a good example of this. I imagine most of us dismiss such incidents as being harmless or annoying and move on. My take on an incident like that is, you guessed it, different. In thinking about the example of an older person getting confused by a cell phone because it has too many functions, a couple of things jump out at me as being evident. The cell phone did not get the ability to text, take pictures, display driving directions, and check email overnight. In the same way, the old person’s confusion at how to use the cell phone likely did not arise all of a sudden either. It is more likely that...