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So Long Segway

February 4, 2010

Segway Inc. Announces Merger

From the  company blog… “Segway Inc. is pleased to announce that in connection with a merger that occurred on December 24, 2009, Segway was acquired by a company that is based in the United Kingdom.  The acquiring company is backed by Jimi Heselden, a prominent U.K. businessman and the Chairman of Hesco Bastion.”

Dean Kamen on the day he introduced his "secret invention" in New York, Dec. 3, 2001. (Louis Lanzano, Associated Press)

Excerpt from Wired Mag, Segway retrospective…

The Segway PT made its debut after months of hype and rampant press speculation during which it was known only by its code name, “Ginger,” or sometimes just “It.” Kamen’s reputation as a brilliant inventor and businessmen opened doors, and the cleverness of his design convinced backers they were onto something hot.

The Segway is an amazing electrical vehicle and its creative inventor Dean Kamen is an inspirational innovator. The Segway introduction and launch buzz generated Snakes on a Plane like frenzy. Technology’s glitterati was enthused to orgasmic sputterings about how the Segway would revolutionize personal transportation.

Yet the Segway costs too much and sells too few. It’s limited in application and does not comfortably fit into our existing infrastructure to be an effective neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV). I knew they’d have a rough road when a guy drove one into the men’s room at a conference hall. He didn’t want to leave it in the hall unguarded, but it was awkwardly out of place in the restroom.

Most of us should walk more. Photo: AP

Probably the biggest turnoff to market acceptance was the attention it drew to the driver, in an uncool way. For personal use it might be OK for the Woz, but the rest of us look like tall, wheeled dorks. You get classed with louts blabbing on flashing Blu-tooth headsets or greeners cruising on recumbent bikes while wearing sandals with socks.

In his Mercury News Column,  Chris O’Brien noted…

Segway reminds us that even the best get it wrong sometimes

It’s hard to remember just how much hype greeted its arrival in 2001. The Segway’s inventor, Dean Kamen, had a strong reputation in engineering circles, having invented the AutoSyringe, a mobile dialysis system, and the iBot, an all-terrain electric wheelchair. People waited eagerly to see what mysterious wonder he was concocting next.

Interest was so intense that the Segway was unveiled in December 2001 — on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a product launch to die for. Not long after, Jay Leno was demonstrating one on “The Tonight Show.” In a Time magazine story, John Doerr predicted Segway would be the fastest company to reach $1 billion in sales. Jobs, of Apple, said the Segway might be more important than the personal computer, that people might design cities around it.

In the end, though, the Segway represents a classic case of a product in search of a problem to solve. That’s usually a recipe for failure. But rest assured that even the savviest among us forget that golden rule now and then.

Let’s hope Steve Jobs has better luck with the highly anticipated, unfortunately named iPad (Can’t touch me).

Roll-on intriguing Segway, we wish you good luck and a bon voyage to your new home. You will always have a  space in our parking lot if you need a little juice and sympathy.

On a happier note, this article from Sustainable Business Oregon.

EV makers take their case to Salem

Oregon’s electric vehicle industry will be on display Thursday, Feb. 4, as a host of manufacturers and suppliers show-off their wares during a day-long event at the state capitol in Salem.

Arcimoto will be joined by Ashland-based electric ATV-maker Barefoot Motors in leading a lobbying effort focused on getting electric vehicle manufacturers included in the state’s Business Energy Tax Credit program. The legislature last year approved a tax credit for EV manufacturers, but it was tucked into a bill that was later vetoed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski because it would have cut incentives for wind energy developers.

Full article…

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