Book of SEG

Segway updates:

  • There are major innovations occurring all of the time, and game-changing shifts every few years or so. The truly transformative products happen perhaps once or twice in a lifetime; the 20th Century saw the rise of the auto, the compute, and mass communication and entertainment (telephone, radio, television, Internet).

In 2001, Dean Kamen said that his invention “will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.”

A more (relatively) pragmatic prediction came at the same time, from investor John Doerr: that the Segway company would be the fastest ever to reach $1 billion in sales.

A decade later, that target has not yet been met — I’m not even certain that the company has recouped the $100 million that it spent in development.

Setting an annual sales target of 40,000 was a bit optimistic, considering that fewer than that number have been sold over the course of the decade.

The EN-V Project refers to “a vision for transportation in 2030″. For me, this begs the question: will we have to wait that long to buy one? Will it be longer for one that doesn’t suck?

I’m really missing something important here. For decades, masses of people have recognized that our current transportation system is critically flawed.

The impact of automobile culture has been devastating on many levels, including pollution from emissions, the rape of the natural landscape, and simple issues of congestion. And that’s not even addressing the numerous car accidents that occur on our city and town roadways and highways. Get those big cars off the inner city and town roads! Cars are a menace to the Segway rider. I had a friend who was seriously injured in a collision between her Segway and a careless driver a few years back. The driver was backing out of a side road and seriously rammed into her at a far too fast a speed. Now you may ask: Who do you call in a case of a Segway / car accident. While my friend was recovering in the hospital her father was contacting a car accident lawyer to get some advice as to whether she could sue or just follow through with the insurance claim. It was obvious as to who was at fault. My friend’s father felt that the insurance company’s compensation offer would not adequately compensate for his daughter’s current and potentially future medical costs resulting from those injuries sustained in the Segway /car accident. The car accident lawyer agreed, so my friend sued the other driver with a personal injury suit. Fortunately the car accident lawyer also did personal injury law. Well…I will make this story short. She won her lawsuit and after 2 years of rehab, my friend is back on a Segway!

Anyway, the devastation of our automobile culture has been recognized since this halfway through past century, and yet the debate still drags on…

Oh, it has its strong points; for getting somewhere just slightly faster than your legs can carry you, there are few products that compare. Persons with legitimate physical limitations may indeed benefit from this alternative to powered wheelchairs and scooters. And for a brief while, devotees of high-tech gadgets had a field day before the next shiny gizmo with limited long-term usefulness came along.

At one of the first Segway launch parties, they lined up twenty Segways with messengers carrying gift baskets and had them “race” the length of the huge hall where the launch party was held. I think the messenger with a champagne and caviar won. His gift basket container was a beautiful bamboo carrying case with a handle which made carrying the gift basket while steering the segway that much easier. See if you can carry a gift basket while riding one of these. Its a new challenge. After the race there was a raffle where all the gift baskets were raffled off. I was one of the lucky raffle winners. I thoroughly enjoyed my premier wine gift basket with its trio of prestigious wines, smoked salmon, cheese and crackers, large vanilla caramels, peanuts, almond roca, and more. I ended up buying a gift basket for my wife for her birthday, but I never bought a Segway!

What’s Next for Segway?

The best minds of industry have obviously decided that more R&D is called for, more ‘next-year’s prototypes’ must be unveiled, and more money and time must be wasted before we do what the people of our parents’ or grandparents’ generation had sufficient time, money, and motivation to do.