Paranoia (071 of 170)

—of —
by Joseph Finder
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Macmillan: Paranoia

Paranoia by Joseph Finder. Copyright 2004 by Joseph Finder.
All Rights Reserved. Sharing not permitted.

Part Four: 35 (Cont'd)

After a few seconds of silence, he smiled. I'd done my homework. I'd read a transcript of some informal remarks Goddard had made at one of those future-of-technology conferences, in Palo Alto a year ago. He'd gone on a rant against "creeping featurism," as he called it, and I'd committed it to memory, figuring I could pull it out at a Trion meeting sometime.

"How come?"

"That's just featuritis. Loading on the chrome at the expense of ease of use, simplicity, elegance. I think we're all getting fed up with having to press thirty-six buttons in sequence on twenty-two remote controls just to watch the evening news. I think it already pisses a lot of people off to have the CHECK ENGINE light go on in your car, and you can't just pop the hood and check it out—you've got to take it in to some specialty mechanic with a diagnostic computer and an engineering degree from MIT."

"Even if you're a gearhead," Goddard said with a sardonic smile.

"Even if. Plus, this whole convergence thing is a myth anyway, a buzzword that's dangerous if you take it seriously. Bad for business. Canon's fax-phone was a flop—a mediocre fax and an even lousier phone. You don't see the washing machine converging with the dryer, or the microwave converging with the gas oven. I don't want a combination microwave-refrigerator-electric range-television if I just want something to keep my Cokes cold. Fifty years after the computer was invented, it's converged with—what? Nothing. The way I see it, this convergence bullshit is just the jackalope all over again."

"The what?"

"The jackalope—a mythical creation of some nutty taxidermist, made up out of a jackrabbit and an antelope. You see 'em on postcards all over the West."

"You don't mince words, do you?"

"Not when I'm convinced I'm right, sir."

He put down the HR file, leaned back in his chair again. "What about the ten-thousand-foot view?"


"Trion as a whole. Any other strong opinions?"

"Some, sure."

"Let's hear 'em."

Wyatt was always commissioning competitive analyses of Trion, and I'd committed them to memory. "Well, Trion Medical Systems is a pretty robust portfolio, real best-in-class technologies in magnetic resonance, nuclear medicine, and ultrasound, but a little weak in the service stuff like patient information management and asset management."

He smiled, nodded. "Agreed. Go on."

"Trion's Business Solutions unit obviously sucks—I don't have to tell you that—but you've got most of the pieces in place there for some serious market penetration, especially in IP-based and circuit-switched voice and ethernet data services. Yeah, I know fiber optic's in the toilet right now, but broadband services are the future, so we've gotta hang tough. The Aerospace division has had a rough couple of years, but it's still a terrific portfolio of embedded computing products."

"But what about Consumer Electronics?"

"Obviously it's our core competency, which is why I moved here. I mean, our high-end DVD players beat Sony's hands down. Cordless phones are strong, always have been. Our mobile phones are killer—we rule the market. We've got the marquee name—we're able to charge up to thirty percent more for our products, just because they say Trion on the label. But there are just way too many soft spots."

"Such as?"

"Well, it's crazy that we don't have a real BlackBerry-killer. Wireless communications devices should be our playground. Instead, it's like we're just ceding the ground to RIM and Handspring and Palm. We need some serious hip-top wireless devices."

"We're working on that. We've got a pretty interesting product in the pipeline."

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