Copying after a fashion

Came across a TEDxUSC (University of Southern California) talk by Johanna Blakely (link). She discusses the differences in approach between the fashion industry, where there is very little intellectual property protection, no copyright protection, no patent protection and only trademark protection (the reason for logo chic).

She focuses on the statement often used by the music and video industry to justify copyright -

Without ownership there is no incentive to innovate

One has to only look at Lady Gaga’s latest outfit to see the absurdity of that statement. lady-gaga-queen Fashion designers can sample and remix to their hearts content without any fear that they are impinging on someone else’s copyrighted work. This freedom of action has led to a ‘culture of copying’ a.k.a. a trend and fuelled the rise and success of the fashion industry.

But this effect does not only apply to fashion. Jokes and recipes can not be copyrighted (good news to all those e-mail forwarders amongst us). For comedians, the result has been the rise of a new style of comic, when everyone can use (and reuse) the same one-liners, comedians with personas (Seinfeld for example) become the new norm.

The kicker in the talk is when she compares the revenue of low IP industries (food, automobiles, fashion, furniture) with that of high IP industries (film, books, music).

Blakely TEDxUSC Gross sales

Makes you think, doesn’t it?

A copy of her charts (with some awesome fashion statements) can be found at the following link.

Reverse Innovation

Short piece in Newsweek talks about the concept of reverse innovation as being the next big driver of globalization.  In essence, it is innovation flowing from developing countries to developed countries .tata_nano_1

An example cited is the  Tata Nano out of India designed for that marketplace (very low price and cost of ownership) but as a product finding interest in the developed world.

This is also already happening somewhat in the Telecom world with the rise of low cost innovators like ZTE and Huawei. (it is not just about manufacturing costs anymore!!!).

Taken to its logical conclusion, companies will become global not just international. Leading the way is IBM with not only globally distributed manufacturing and research but also with administrative functions being managed and run on a world wide basis in places such as Brazil, China and India. Perhaps, in a few years the concept of a centrally managed company with home-country assignees managing foreign subsidiaries will disappear.

Google Voice – the next best thing

Announced last Thursday, Google Voice (based on the Grand Central acquisition) is yet another nail in the ‘core services’ coffin of the Telcos. It promises to not only allow easy consolidation of multiple phone numbers to quote the NY Times “one number to ring them all”  [link], but also provide easier management of voice mails and conference calling. The consumer cost appears to be very low and provides a real challenge to Telcos. Some observations (and I can’t wait to sign up !!)

  1. It provides a very cheap way of creating an additional dedicated ‘home’ business line (and being able to redirect calls coming into that number to multiple destinations).  Taking a personal example, rather than pay $27.86 per month ((including fees and taxes but without voicemail or other features) for a business line which I use occasionally – I can use Google Voice for a fraction of the cost.
  2. It is not a Skype-killer, there is no video feed and while switching costs are very low,  the ongoing cost is also low making the monetary benefit not compelling.
  3. It will become harder and harder for Telcos (and others) to justify charging for conference calling features (can Web conferencing be far behind?)
  4. What is in it for Google? My initial take is that there is little revenue in this for Google but it further strengthens the Google brand as the place to go for consumer innovation.