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« Living Down To Expectations | Main | Overblown Rhetoric »

Oversimplistic

Business 2.0 has a list of nine trendy fads to ignore. One of them is space tourism:

Travel to the final frontier is riskier than buying a vacation home in Aspen. When the first billionaire perishes in the icy void of space, itíll take years for this nascent industry to bounce back.

This is...what's the technical business phrase for it?...oh yeah--ignorant nonsense, just like Alex Tabarrok's dumb piece at TCS a few months ago, which I promptly dismantled.

It's wrong on two counts. First, it's not all that intrinsically risky, at least for the suborbital market, which is what will mostly be happening in the near term. And second, a death of a billionaire wouldn't kill it at all, unless one wants to argue (in the face of the counterreality) that all the deaths of millionaires climbing Everest, or doing helicopter skiing, or the other risky things that some wealthy people do has killed those businesses off.

To me, this is simply good publicity, since they spelled the name right. If someone is calling it a "fad to ignore," it means that it has at least percolated sufficiently into the public consciousness that someone feels compelled to tell us to ignore it.

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 25, 2005 07:00 AM
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I read the rest of the fads and the language they use in each one leads me to think the title should be changed to "9 Trends We're Jealous We Didn't See First So We Could Cash In On It".

I bet they compared the Internet to CB Radio back in '97, too and then only because they missed the Netscape IPO.

Posted by Michael Mealling at September 25, 2005 11:15 AM

I read the rest of the fads and the language they use in each one leads me to think the title should be changed to "9 Trends We're Jealous We Didn't See First So We Could Cash In On It".

I bet they compared the Internet to CB Radio back in '97, too and then only because they missed the Netscape IPO.

Posted by Michael Mealling at September 25, 2005 11:17 AM

So the real test of this is: does she run a repeat of the fairly well attended (I understand) "Flight School" day at her conference in Scottsdale next spring???? I bet the day was pretty profitable for the conference...

IF yes, then including space tourism here was just hype mongering...

Although the point about a dead billionaire is a good one. However i think everyone in the industry already realizes killing passengers is a bad business plan.

-jcp-

Posted by Joe Pistritto at September 25, 2005 11:35 AM

It may be correct, to the extent that a major space tourism accident early on, will be very bad PR, bu as the activity becomes more commonplace, accepted and low-profile, the less paralyzing such an event would be.

Consider; a tourist helicopter recently went down in Hawaii...

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=1&tid=34531261

...does anyone here believe it's now the end of that activity?

I thought not.

And yeah, as hi-def TV becomes the norm, people will indeed want hi-def (and the hi-dense data storage that comes with that technology) video media. After all, Beta vs. VHS war *did* have a winner...

And hydrogen cars face the same problem that hydrogen rockets do: practical storage of the stuff. But autos, at least, have a few more options.

Posted by Frank Glover at September 25, 2005 11:40 AM

That there are NASA-uber-alles types dismissing the suborbital industry says it's well on its way. I'm just a fan cheering from the sidelines, but what was it that Ghandi said? "First they ignore us, then they ridicule us, then they fight us. Then we win."

Posted by The Pathetic Earthling at September 25, 2005 12:47 PM

Do we have good data on the risk/demand curve as a function of income? How many billionaires have ascended to the peak of Everest?

Personally, I don't know if a viable space tourism industry is going to require more reliability than can be reasonably initially expected. I would not be surprised either way, for either suborbital or orbital tourism.

Posted by Paul Dietz at September 25, 2005 01:19 PM

Well, at least an agnostic attitude like yours is more reasonable than that of the naysayers, Paul.

Posted by Rand Simberg at September 25, 2005 01:31 PM

Ha ha. That list convinced me never to read that magazine. I could happily pick apart at least 7 of those 10, and 2 are hyperbole trumped up to round out the list. Only #4 is good advice, but spotting a trend only _after_ prices have started falling doesn't exactly commend me their business sense.

Posted by Brock at September 25, 2005 07:04 PM

They're actually right about the HDDVD vs BlueRay war. Content providers are going to completely ignore both formats, cut out the middlemen, and distribute over Akamai.

Posted by at September 26, 2005 04:41 AM

Brock, I agree. There's only one valid point in the entire article. Some of the rest are so vacuous, it's astonishing. For example, claiming that "China rules the world" is a "trend" that can be "ignored" because Japan couldn't meet the hype in the 80's?

My take is that it's amazing these people managed to survive the dotcom bubble. I guess they excel at producing lists that sound interesting. After all, who wouldn't want to know what the 101 dumbest moments in business are or get access to the 2005 "Smart list"!

Posted by Karl Hallowell at September 26, 2005 05:45 AM

"So the real test of this is: does she run a repeat of the fairly well attended (I understand) 'Flight School" day at her conference in Scottsdale next spring????'

Sounds like you're confusing Business 2.0 with Esther Dyson's Release 1.0. There's no connection that I know of.

Posted by Monte Davis at September 26, 2005 06:42 AM

Actually, this article could do the industry some good by steering away the stupid money. The last thing we need is a bunch of high-publicity, low-safety startups funded by fools wanting to cash in on a fad.

Posted by Karl Gallagher at September 26, 2005 08:25 AM


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