On commoditisation, gear indicators, and web search - part 1
Today, I woke up later than I wanted to and after wrangling for precious resources, I missed my pickup cab by a whisker (as always?). So, I asked Kishore to wait for a few more minutes and rode pillion to him on Johnsy's motorbike. Given the state of Bangalore traffic, we had plenty of time to opine and discuss several things. That's when the engine stopped. Kishore explained that from rest, he released the clutch without realising that the drive was in second gear. Because of his mechanical engineering background and my exposure to automotive talk, we naturally began to discuss solutions to this problem. We wondered why there is no gear indicator in all motorbikes, even when that and auto-clutch has been shown to be possible.
Initially, we thought this kind of lack of choice in features might go away in the face of increased competition. While this is true to an extent, we realised that no company would invest in such features as long as they know that people can't afford to choose bikes on isolated features like this. I reasoned that this may change if these products are "commoditised". That is, when motorbikes become platforms where you can get comparable configurations of mileage, power, and other core functions from virtually everyone, you can then pick and choose on the "peripheral" features. In fact, component technology companies like Delphi are set to offer after market solutions. Given my predisposition, I began to think about commoditisation of the web search market. More on this in part two. Do you see similar commoditisations happening in other (non-internet, non-automotive) sectors?