We hear the term “re-inventing the wheel” all of the time. It's a term used so loosely, and the phrase has all but lost its impact.
Until you consider, that Goodyear has actually gone and done it.
They have created a spherical wheel: the Goodyear Eagle-360. It looks like a big rubber ball and here’s a picture to prove it.
Of course, it's just a concept. The maglev drive they need to make the wheels rotate doesn’t actually exist yet, but it probably will soon, given the amount of money that is being thrown at it.
These wheels aren't for you and me, though, they are for autonomous vehicles that can think in multiple directions at once, taking into account other road users, pedestrians and even traffic lights (note to cyclists).
So Goodyear is taking a punt on creating a wheel that will be powered by technology that doesn’t exist yet, for vehicles that haven’t been approved for use on the road.
Why risk all that money on developing technology that is ahead of its time?
Well, because it makes complete sense. Roads are with us for the foreseeable future, and I can't see us all taking to the skies in our personal drones anytime soon. But the way we will think about transport will change pretty rapidly. Personal cars may just be for the enthusiast in the near future, with most of us just calling a Ber (that’s an Uber without the U know who). We won’t own cars; they will just become a thing we use.
Now doesn’t that sound familiar? Companies used to have to buy all of their software. They had to look after it, maintain it, keep it up to date. But now you can just rent it using a SaaS model, just like we will do with cars.
SaaS software has distinct advantages for the user – use the software and pay or stop using it and stop paying. No hardware costs, maintenance contracts or long term commitment. You use it because you like it and because it does what it says it will. If it doesn’t, you can move on. Users also have the benefit of great design, user experience and an interface that they like to use.
Conversely, the software provider should have all the disadvantages – constantly improving the product to stay in front, having to provide great looking and usable software, and having clients that only stay with them because they like what the product does.
But where’s the disadvantage in all of that?
Software companies should always be improving their software and the user experience. They should always be pushing forward. They should be agile and able to look at problems in new ways and develop software for the future, as well as today.
Some can and some can’t. Some are here today and some will be gone tomorrow. But for those that continuously re-invent the wheel, then the future can only be bright.