If you’re interested in a “brilliant idea” that David Pogue, technology writer at The New York Times, is “offering to the entrepreneurs of the world at no charge,” it’s about expensive toys and the novelty wearing off. He was reviewing Pleo, “the (yawn) dino-robot,” a new $350 toy that reminded him way too much of the 2001 Sony puppy robot.
See, I agree that everyone should have the chance to play with a Pleo. Its rubbery textured skin is a first for one of these robots, and the movements are nicely animal-like. Its quite a novelty.
But then you get tired of it, and you’re out $350.
And so here’s what I think the world needs: a new Web site called WornOffNovelty.com. You’d list an object that you want to own — but for only a short time. Other people sign up, too, so that a chain of purchasing is set up in advance.
You buy the thing at full price. When you’re finished with it, maybe a couple of weeks later, the next guy buys it from you for 85 percent of the original price. Then he sells it to the third guy for 85 percent of that. And so on, until the last guy gets the hand-me-down Pleo for, say, $25. Everybody’s happy, and there’s not a bunch of closeted Pleos all over America.
Think eBay without the uncertainty; the chain of ownership is pre-established, and your little group feels the bond of kinship and shared experience, like a book club.
For example, I keep thinking I should buy one of those turntables that converts old vinyl records into modern CDs but it seems so wasteful. After all, once I’ve converted all my old records, what further use do I have for the conversion machine? I should be able to pass it on to the next person who needs one, and get 85 percent of my money back.
I’ve got a bunch of VHS tapes I want to digitize, too. If I’m going to go to all that effort, though, I want to buy a really fancy professional VCR that can milk every pixel of quality out of those tapes. Yet I haven’t bought one yet for the same reason: once I’m done, Ill be stuck with an expensive VCR that I never use. WornOffNovelty.com!
Think of how many other expensive things we use only temporarily that would make fantastic hand-me-acrosses: Fancy infant strollers. Rehabilitation equipment. Expensive cameras or camcorders that we buy just to cover a single, once-in-a-lifetime event. And, of course, robot toys. Web startups, start your engines.