Saturday, June 4, 2011

Boeing

Three of the most important things in business mirror priorities in real estate. They are location, location and location. Companies have identities, and they lose them by moving around in search of cheap labor and tax dodges. Neither route leads to greatness.

Boeing was Seattle. It helped build the community, and it was part of it. While the company is still strong in Washington, it is now an outsider. The trust is gone. First individuals were disposable. Then, Seattle was. Now, Boeing is no more a part of Seattle than it is Chicago. Who would welcome them?

Air travelers wouldn't. Every Boeing product looks exactly like the last. An airport picture from the 1970s looks like an airport now. The wings are folded up on the ends, but that's the only visible improvement. From the outside, you can't see the seats growing smaller and smaller.

Boeing does not aspire to greatness. In spite of similar subsidies to their competition, they are incapable of keeping up. If Aesop were alive today, he would write about Boeing and Airbus as two competitors who went to sleep and completely forgot that they were in a race.

Airbus deserves special mention. They are such non-entities, that they can't get their own section on this blog. Think about it. Air Bus. The company looks like it was born out of a strict truth-in-advertising law. As soon as someone finds a way to put turnstiles in the sky, the evolution of air travel will be complete.

Meanwhile, Boeing is building the Dreamliner. It sounds better than calling it the Vaporwareliner. Having outsourced everything everywhere, they are discovering that final assembly is harder than they thought. When the new plane is put into service, those of us who are passengers will wait through longer delays and sit in the smaller seats while someone in a faraway boardroom smiles about saving money. No one will think it's an achievement, because for passengers, it will be the same as every other plane.

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