The lighting industry was started by Legends: Thomas A. Edison, George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, Gérard Philips, Bill Warren, Chris Brown….. Lighting products are legendary per Jim Benya. Whether you call them legendary or traditional, it’s over. Clearly we are moving into the electronic age. That means the game is changing. You just cannot think legendary…..you have to think electronic. Steve Jobs has taught us that in this high tech electronic age, the consumer just does not know what they want. We used to teach in the Universities that before you make anything, ask the consumer what they want first. We call that the Consumer Age.
Well if Mr. Jobs is right and the consumer just cannot tell you what they want, what do you do? Oh, what a conundrum. Not really. We now teach that high tech companies need to rethink their new product development strategy. To focus all their resources on idea generation in order to do two things: INNOVATE & POST PURCHASE EVALUATION. Develop the most innovative technologies you can, test market them, commercially launch; then, and probably more important, ask your customers what they liked about the product and what they didn’t like about it. Make the changes and INNOVATE again. Maybe that explains: 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 etc. etc. etc…….
Getting back to the lighting industry, this thinking applies here as well. We are so use to burning a light bulb until all the life is out of it, fighting replacement even when it’s barely breathing. Well, that’s all changing. It really started with the introduction of the electronic ballast and lamps that gave you 100+ lm/W. Those of us in the energy business have softened the market to advise users that energy is too high a cost to burn the old technologies, even if that old fixture still has some life. End-Users just threw out underperforming fixtures because they bought the energy story. Well, folks the electronic industry is way ahead of us. They encourage us to throw out perfectly fine performing devices because a new technology has more bells and whistles and the waiting line is only two miles long right there on Times Square.
Some are saying, the pessimists by the way, that LEDs just last too long. Sure, we may get a nice bump in sales and profits in the short term, but if they don’t change a bulb in 10 years, where’s the replacement market headed. Have no fear, the lighting industry will also do two things: INNOVATE & POST PURCHASE EVALUATION. We will have our own version of 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0……..we will encourage our customers to throw out a perfectly good fixture that gives you 100 lm/W for one that gives you 200 lm/W, then 300 lm/W, then other bells and whistles we cannot even image today. We will get it right and the story will get better. But who really knows. Another Legendary figure Yogi Berra said it best: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. So have no fear Legends, I predict that the opportunities will be greater than ever…I’d love to be around when they replace LEDs.