16 September 2015

Le Grand Tour

During The First Gilded Age, the newly minted adults of the 1% were sent off on The Grand Tour to prepare themselves to be Masters of The World. Now, Apple has The Double Tour, courtesy of Hermès. This should sound familiar.

In a few of these endeavor's previous essays, there was discussion about whether an Eccles' style economy could survive a New Gilded Age. The answer, of course, is no. But a New Gilded Age cares not a fig about what Eccles cares about. Until post-WWII, industrial America was built on the New England Factory Town paradigm: the many hands living at subsistence to provide bling to the wealthy few. Ford, both the man and the company, were a notable exception. He sought to maximize profit by maximizing productivity. He understood that, unlike Cadillac and Packard, this paradigm could only work if 50% or 75% could afford his cars. And he made it so; not least by paying his workers enough to buy his cars. He pissed off other car makers in the process.

Enter, stage right, The Burberry Girl. At the time, I noted that such experience was simply the wrong fit. Burberry, or any clothing company, has a near infinite total addressable market not tied to the population. How many shirts do you have? As many as like, and can afford. The same for Burberry Coats. Smartphones? If you've more than one in regular use, you're either a drug dealer or CIA spy; both?

Some take The Double Tour to be proof that the Watch Edition is going nowhere. Could be, but it's got The Burberry Girl's fingerprints all over it in any case. No chance to double up watch sales? Fine, here's some extra bling. One might consider that Apple had such a move in mind very early on, long before the failure of the Edition: the engineering of the strap connection was obviously done specifically to make such as The Double Tour possible. Hole and pin attachment of standard watch straps is fine if changing straps is only done when the strap breaks or gets so sweat laden as to be annoying.

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