An Idea to Stabilize Oil Prices by Juan Enriquez

Just watched a Juan Enriquez talk at TED. It’s a bit old, from 2007, but the good thing about great talks is that they keep making sense after being given.

Most of the presentation is about making a transition in how we deal with energy. He says we have to start applying biology to energy, just like it was done in agriculture in the 20th century. The terms he uses is going from brute force to biology. If we truly understand what happens with our energy sources we’ll be able to do things better. All this is very interesting and you should watch the video.

But the thing that most caught my attention is his final thought. He shows a graphic of oil prices, with all it’s ups and downs, and explains that that instability makes it impossible to look for new energy sources/procedures because when the price goes down the companies researching go out of business. Then the price goes up again.

He proposes a tax on oil in the US. It would set a minimum price per barrel of oil. If the price goes below that level, the difference is taxed. If it goes over that minimum, the tax disappears. This would give some certainties to companies researching because if they can produce energy below that cost limit, they have a business.

I usually don’t like taxes to solve problems because I think that they create new problems. Although I don’t agree, I must admit that he’s got me thinking.

Posted: June 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Economy and Business | Tags: , | 14,557 Comments »

Amazon Needs To Move The Kindle To A Subscription Model To Save It From The iPad


A few hours ago I read Paul Carr’s column on Techcrunch about how the iPad will kill the Kindle. His thesis is that it will kill it, but not because it is a better ebook reader, which he says it’s not due to the Kindle’s e-ink, but because it will kill casual reading. He says that with a Kindle you have so many funny things to do that you’ll just no be able to concentrate on reading.

I don’t agree with everything he says in his column, but I agree with the main thesis. If Amazon keeps trying to sell the Kindle at its current price ($259 for the Kindle and $489 for the Kindle DX , Amazon affiliate links) it can’t compete with the iPad, which range from $499 to $829 but can do much more things and is trendier.

However, Amazon has an advantage: their core business here is selling ebooks, not Kindles, so they should not compete directly with the iPad. I’ve read several times lately that Amazon was trying to figure the numbers to give Kindles for free so people would buy more ebooks when they tried it. They have even tried this approach and given away a few Kindles. The problem with this approach is that you can make mistakes and give Kindles to people who won’t use them and won’t buy ebooks. And I don’t know the cost of the Kindle, but it can’t be as low as to allow this kind of mistakes.

This is where the subscription model can save the Kindle. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who buys or thinks in buying a Kindle is an avid reader. And avid readers buy a lot of books. So sell everything together. Instead of selling the Kindle and then the ebooks, give me a Kindle if I buy a subscription. They can even make tiers: if you buy x ebooks a month for two years we give you the Kindle for free, or if you just want to compromise to x ebooks in the first year you have to pay x amount (reduced) for the Kindle. I understand that this approach is not easy to implement (it’s not easy to enforce, you need credit checks or deposits…) and it’s not easy to sell. But selling Kindles is not gonna be easy anymore anyway. With this model the Kindle can’t be compared directly to the iPad on price. And Amazon would be selling reading, not a reader.

And regarding the use, I would not be worried I were Amazon. If you give people cheap Kindles they will use them. The iPad may be great, but with its price is not for everyone yet. Even if people prefer to read in the iPad, it would not be a problem for Amazon, they have already sold the subscription, so they should not care a lot if people read those ebooks on the Kindle or on the Kindle App for the iPad.

Posted: April 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Internet and Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14,764 Comments »