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October 29, 2007


Jim Belfiore

One of the innovations in the NY Times article you referenced doesn't get the attention it deserves. Agassi says that basically, think of the automotive industry as shifting to a cellular phone model, and companies that sell the electricity are akin to the wireless providers of today.

I agree, this opens up a tremendous infrastructure play, but it also substitutes one set of problems for another, which opens up additional opportunities for innovative thinking.

By adopting a cell phone-like model, we're potentially looking at a future where car batteries are disposable. If we want to pay a premium at a charging station to swap out a tired battery for a new one that's fully charged, we'll gladly swipe our credit cards and be on our way. Over time, instead of worrying about where to find affordable crude oil for the next generation, we may have to start thinking about where the next generation is going to dump large numbers of used batteries that contain seriously toxic metals and compounds.

Here, therefore, is an opportunity to innovate on Agassi's innovation. TRIZ and similar innovation methodologies teach us that we should never ignore the free resources that surround us. Free resources are often tapped to fill a need that hasn't yet been discovered, and the innovator which makes the connection between the resource and the need is often greatly rewarded.

So, as Agassi and others create innovative business models and infrastructure to solve today's need, I want to keep my eye on those who are looking the impacts and evolution of this innovation.

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