Starting Over

Imagine, for a second, that you’re China.

Over the next few years, you’re going to buy half a billion or so cars. Pave most of the country. Buy billions of barrels of oil… all the price of modernization.

The thing about China is that the government isn’t shy about being authoritarian.

So what if the Chinese government decided to decree what it meant for something to be legally sold as a car?

What if a Chinese car:
–got 40 mpg or more
–with low emissions
–was small enough to fit into a parking space sized x by y (which is a number smaller than, say, a Buick)
–had a built-in transponder to track stolen cars
–had built-in cell phone capability
–had a transmitter that alerted the local authorities whenever you drove faster than the emergency speed limit
–had built-in baby seat anchors
–had brights that automatically dimmed whenever another car approached
–was recyclable
–had digital key systems that made it easy to do car sharing
–had insurance paid for with a gas tax
–allowed local roads to ‘talk’ to the car about upcoming dangers
–had a body that was ugly but easy to repair after an accident
–had a transponder that broadcast when it was stuck in traffic and received inputs on how to avoid existing jams
–had a follow me feature that allowed a car to be set to follow the car ahead (at low speeds) to increase the efficiency of traffic flow
–ten other things I can’t think of but you can

How would that change the future of China? The definition of a car?

And what on earth does this have to do with you and your life and your career?

I think there are entire classes of products and services (from charities to political parties to cars) that are about to be completely reversioned. The accumulating weight of new technology, new networking abilities and ecological and economic demands means that incremental band aid improvements cease to pay off and instead, wholesale replacement occurs.

Think iPod. The iPod is not a better CD player. It’s part of a totally new system. China has the luxury of starting from scratch (though it appears, based on the sales of Maybachs and Land Rovers, they’re blowing it the same way others have), but either way, it’s going to happen to just about every industry.

Imagine the network effects that will occur when your industry gets networked and rebuilt and reinvented. Who’s going to go first? Maybe you.