Saturday, March 10, 2012

Screws explain it all.

My big weekend project is to install a shower curtain rod. There was nothing wrong with our old rod. It's served us well for the 13+ years we've lived in our home. But my wife, in her infinite-wifedom decided we needed a nice shower bar, one that curves outward. As Sgt. Bilko would say, "It has sweep."

So I went to a local hardware store--one run by Russian Jewish emigres--and bought a box of 30 3/16th-inch screws with 30 accompanying anchors. They cost $4.99--roughly 8 and 1/3-cents a piece.

Somehow, however, those simple screws were sourced from seven different countries. And somehow, despite all the distance they were shipped, they wound up in my apartment costing less than five bucks.

When you make a commodity you can be outsourced. If you don't make anything special, anyone can do what you do.

So much of what is now done by ad agencies--"front-end" development, user experience protocols is infrastructure development. It's not differentiated. Or differentiateable.

As long as we make parity products ours will be a low wage, low margin, low value industry.

In other words, we'll be screwed.


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