June 17, 2003

Segway Verdict: Dorky

OK, So I guess this is officially a trend: two Segways in 3 days. First, one passed me on Fifth Avenue near the office. That was the first one I've seen live. Then on Sunday, some guy was riding his down the Riverside Park bike path while his female companion jogged alongside.

Apparently, they are quasi-legal on New York sidewalks. (Which is just as well, since our sidewalks are in way better shape than our streets, witness the wading pool size potholes on my block. Driving has definitely taken on an obstacle-course quality in much of Manhattan.)

Meanwhile, the Harvard Business School has printed an excerpt from a book on the Segway that describes the reaction of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos to the Segway. Vintage Jobs:

"Its shape is not innovative, it's not elegant, it doesn't feel anthropomorphic," said Jobs, ticking off three of his design mantras.

"You have this incredibly innovative machine but it looks very traditional."

Perhaps more to the point, it looks dorky. Driving one seems about as sexy as driving the forklift at Wal-Mart. The company seems to understand this as their website is filled with pictures of goofy Middle Americans attending to mundane tasks on their Segways.

And the stories of how their lives have been changed — I mean, seriously, people, get a grip. Apparently, the hype machine is gearing up, though, as Justin Timberlake rode one on the MTV awards. If anything is going to kill this machine, that kind of exposure will.

Posted by campbell at June 17, 2003 11:23 PM | TrackBack