The Prosumerification of Everything

Prosumer is a portmanteau from Professional and consumer, it is an ugly word picked up by the vendors of digital cameras to describe too many complicated and formerly expensive professional features being added to consumer models. Paul Kedrosky makes it uglier by inventing Prosumerification- the tendency of home stoves morph into into commercial Garland ranges, Home entertainment systems that rival a THX equipped cinema, video cameras where George Lucas couldn't use all the features, all of them more complex, expensive and sucking more power.

A remarkable example can be seen in rice cookers; Toshiba invented them 50 years ago with a simple heating element beneath the bowl that had a thermostat to click off as soon as the water was gone. We use a 25 year old one like this every night and it still works perfectly. Now the Wall Street Journal tells us that Toshiba is offering the Vacuum-Pressure Rice Cooker for 100,000 yen ( US$ 830). It creates a vacuum while the rice soaks, then 264 pounds of pressure while it cooks, all in a vessel coated in silver and diamond dust to distribute the heat evenly.

early rice cooker from Sony

One rice expert questions the logic of this:

The latest rash of technology is a bit much for Mr. Nishijima, the rice expert. "Just because you pay 70,000 yen [about $575] or 110,000 yen doesn't mean that there's a drastic change in taste," says Mr. Nishijima, who adds that good rice can be made with the simplest of rice cookers if it is to be eaten right away. He thinks consumers might be too susceptible to hype. "It almost seems like anything is OK as long as it's expensive," he says. ::Wall Street Journal, subscription only but copy of portion here.

Also in the Journal was "Japan Aims To Be Climate Change Leader But Lags Kyoto Goals"

Household emissions present a major challenge. (household emissions rose 37.4% from 1990 levels)

The government estimates that household emission of 175 million tons of CO2 in 2005 will have to be cut by 38 million tons - or nearly 22% - by 2010. Officials are urging citizens to take quicker showers, use less air conditioning and heating, and switch to eco-friendly appliances.

Coincidence? ::Infectious Greed

Tags: Appliances | Japan