Archive by Author | bastiaanboelhouwer

YourMechanic solves lemon buying-problems

In last weeks’ Information Strategy-lecture, we talked about Akerlof’s paper on ‘Market for Lemons’. [1] The theory, that states that asymmetric information will eventually cause high quality products to be driven out of the market by low quality products, can be applied to the market for second hand cars. A big problem, as indicated in the lecture, is the fact that buyers are not 100% sure about the real quality of a car before they buy it. There can be hidden problems or specifications might turn out not to be such as stated in the advertisement. YourMechanic now solves this problem. The car-services platform now also offers $100-car inspections for people who want to buy a used car and want to be sure they make a good deal, and hence, solving the lemon buying-problem.[2]

Interesting IT-enabled platform
But, this is not the only reason why YourMechanic is an interesting platform. The website is an online marketplace that connects people with car-problems to certified mechanics. The strength of the platform is the fact that it works hard on solving information asymmetry problems. Consumers who need their cars fixed have access to mechanic profiles that show reviews of earlier customers, online repair records and YourMechanic also offers a ‘fair price’-calculator that uses ‘half a billion data points’ to provide a fair price for the job at hand. All of these information-points,  combined with 12-months of warranty, facilitate a safe process for at home car-repairs. As is proved by the quick expansion of the platform.[3][4]

Future of car repairs?
The big question of course, in this case is, will this be the future? Customers of YourMechanic save a good amount of money on the repairs and car-parts because of the fact that car-dealerships are cut out, but still receive a qualitatively good repair due to the information provided by the platform of YourMechanic. And last but not least, making use of the services of YourMechanic means a mechanic will visit your place of residence or work on whatever time suits you. Can it get any better?

The platform started operation in the San Jose-area and is already expanding to San Francisco, is anything holding down a national or global expansion? Time will tell!


Is the end of ‘Please stow all electronic devices’ near?

Is the end of ‘Please stow all electronic devices’ near?
As discussed in the class of the 23rd of September, mobile device and mobile internet usage are exploding. However, aviation ruling has not changed much in the mean time. As many, I could not have helped but wonder about the necessity of not using electronic devices during takeoff or landing. I can understand it to be a good thing for the pilot to hold off on these, but there has never been hard data on negative consequences of passenger’s electronic devices-use during these critique moments of flight. Or are there? And might there be possibilities of this changing for the better, and enabling internet on board? Maybe even in-flight online shopping?

Myths & Truths of in-flight smartphone & tablet-use:
To delve further in this topic it is good to bust some myths you might think are true and get into the real cause of this communications technology-ban in airplanes.
Myth 1: Interference with airplane equipment: This one is the most commonly known. However, aeronautical communication technology works with wavelengths below 500MHz, while consumer electronics work on wavelengths from up to 2GHz. Interference in that sense, is not possible.
Myth 2: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not want to test every device on possible interference: Also a myth. All mobile devices share the same communication components. Whether you are using an iPhone, Blackberry, or even a Nokia, it all works the same. So, separate testing is not a thing.
Myth 3: Everybody in the plane using it at the same time is the problem: Also wrong.  Electromagnetics don’t work in the sense that they become stronger with more users using it at the same time, so this won’t cause problems.
A more viable hypothesis is the one stating that cell towers can overload due to the speed of movement of the mobile device users. This is actually technically true, but this is luckily also a technicality that can be managed by enough capacity. [1]

The Real Truth: Since all of these myths can be busted, what is the real reason for the ban on the use of electronic devices during takeoff & landing? It is your attention! Since only 8% of airplane accidents happen during the cruising-stage of a flight, and respectively 42% and 50% during takeoff and landing, the FAA simply tries to make sure you pay attention during these critique moments of flight… But, since us 2013-citizens almost live in our smartphones and tablets, is this reasoning still strong enough?

Oh yeah, something about the end of all of this might be near?
After delving into the myths & truths about the use of electronic devices on airplanes, let’s now take a look at the future. A lot seems to be changing. This Thursday, the advisory committee of the FFA voted to recommend easing the rules on device use on-board. If the FAA does accept this recommendation, which would then happen this Monday, some things are going to change. If the FAA accepts, it will be allowed to use your smartphone, tablet and laptop during takeoffs and landings, making calls or browsing the Internet is still a ‘no-go’. Just switch on airplane mode and you will be fine. [2]
A thing I have to admit, I have been doing for a lot of flights myself already. I mean there is not much better than watching some episodes of Lost while you are in the most critical parts of your flight, right?

Impact on mobile shopping?
After the allowance of using electronic devices during takeoff and landings, the next step seems to be in-flight internet. Even though it is only a small percentage of airlines are currently adopting it, it is a growing trend to offer Wi-Fi on longer flights. The impact of this on online shopping seems to be interesting to research. Will passengers shop for goods available on their destination? Will hotels be able to target last-minute bookings from passengers? Will it be possible to do tax-free shopping and pick this up at your destination airport? What would you like to buy, in-flight?


“Lost-character Jack Shephard looks at the wrecked airplane”