Thursday, October 25, 2007

Unplanned Obsolescence

A now not so recent FAST Company article by Richard Shaffer Unplanned Obsolescence
takes a seemingly critical look at the Grameen Phone Company.

"Grameen's famous Village Phone Program lifted thousands out of poverty-- and helped Muhammad Yunus win the Nobel Peace Prize. The problem: It's not working anymore."

However it never mentions Iqar Quadir who also played an important part in the Grameenphone program. The article cites a number of benefits from the program before getting to it's main complaint which is that it did not maintain those benefits forever. This raises a couple of questions. One, should we be surprised that the benefit decreased over time or is this another example of another economic factor becoming a commodity. defines Commodity as article of trade or commerce, esp. a product as distinguished from a service. If everybody has the article of trade then the service is no longer as valuable. Obviously those individuals who entered early and capitalized on their early fortune will do better than those who didn't. Bringing up the second question, individual entrepreneurs often go through what is deemed the "Valley of Death" basically the transition from working in the garage to having a viable sustainable business. (Can't seem to find my copy of the graph right now) Do developing countries go through that as well? A few people will benefit from early intervention but it does not mean that the stimulus will be there to move the country to the next level. This would mean that we need to be circumspect about early successes while nevertheless still pushing forward, being able to answer such criticisms not only with words but new ideas and actions.

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