Robot company gets back to basics: Find a need, fill it cheaply, lose your ego

I like the business approach that this guy is taking in robotics.

1. Fill a real need (save people time vaccuuming or get your robots to carry heavy packs for the military),

2. make it cheap (focus your development on ensuring that the value proposition makes sense and that you can do it for less than you can charge for it

3. question all assumptions (most robots have vision systems, but it turns out that they are smarter…but work worse than if you forget about the vision system).

If the Apple Newton team had followed these rules instead of blindly and arrogantly working on something that was $1500, 2 pounds, and had “perfect handwriting”, they would have owned the PDA space. Along comes Palm, focused on real usage (fits in a shirt pocket), cheap (start with a price point of $300 and work the design backwards from there, and questioning the need for real handwriting recognition (“Hey, if we don’t need that, then we can go with this tiny, cheap, ultra-low-cost processor.”)

There are no new principles. Only new examples of those principles. With Colin Angle at the head of iRobot, I predict great success.

But, jeez, are they going to have to change their name after the movie i, Robot scares the heck out of everybody?