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12 January 2009

I Love Predictions

Freakonomics is having a long sighted contest for economic or really the best unforeseen event of 2009. You can enter here.

That being said, I write down predictions/business ideas (that are inevitable) from time to time. It's a pseudo hobby of mine and I'd like to think I'm good at it. One of my big ones for the past couple years now has been that some day all media will be licensed to users and downloaded cheaply via the internet. By media I mean books, music, movies, etc. Anything that has a transaction cost that approaches zero will be salable via this method. Why is this inevitable? Currently stores like Best Buy and Borders exist... which means they have to pay employees to stock a physical product, rent a store, pay for electricity, get books/cds from a distributor, who gets them from a manufacturer, etc. By downloading these things via the internet you get rid of over 90% of that. Apple's iTunes is screwed up because they charge $1 a song. Yea, it should be like 5 or 10 cents and the price should fluctuate with demand... will someone please hire me to think up ideas? I have note books full of them.

Here's another; okay, everyone needs food right? And less and less people can or have the time to cook... yet the current food that fits this bill is crazy unhealthy and we all know it. Speaking of which, McDonalds is posting some of its biggest gains they've ever experienced. No money? It's cheap and calorie laden. So why not combine the cheapness and ubiquity of McDonalds with the health that should be inherent to inexpensive food. Cheap tasty food doesn't need to be unhealthy. Now the twist, serve in measured portions and allow your customers to sign up in your store or online for a preferred card type system (much like your grocery store) that would allow them to see what they've eaten in terms of calories, protein, carbs, etc. (if anyone steals this idea, which BTW I'm fine with, please credit me or hire me as a consultant or something). This also allows the business to gather a ton of data on its customers. Parents could also give their kids meal cards that could specify dietary restrictions, allow the kids to eat a good meal in the absence of their parents, and allow the parents to check up on their childrens' diets. The prices of food should also fluctuate with market prices, and the menus should be diverse and constantly changing. So an electronic menu would be necessary. Also, these restaurants should be low frill affairs. They should also start in cities and there will need to be a lot of them initially to achieve the kind of economies of scale that will make the food affordable. O, and it needs to be deliverable. The mission statement of this business should follow along the lines of... improve the health of your customers while providing transparency of dietary information at an extremely low price (meal + snack for between meals for about $2-4, yes it's possible).

Side note: the reason this will work is because kitchens are expensive to build, grocery stores are inefficient (it's a middle man), healthy restaurants are unnecessarily expensive, peoples time is increasingly limited and valuable, cooking for yourself is inefficient, fast food is generally unhealthy, and fewer and fewer people can cook or ever do so at home.

And yes, all my ideas eliminate jobs. I'm evil. Then again wouldn't it suck if we still had blacksmiths and ice delivery men? There's plenty of work to be done in this world. Don't cling to menial tasks that can be done better by technology.

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