January 18, 2007

A few weeks ago when I was helping my mom move in I had the responsibility of setting up a few pieces of "flatpack" furniture, a bookshelf and then a rather more ambitious computer desk. The desk was actually kind of a pain to get right ("no tool assembly" my left buttcheek! Maybe if I had the gripstrength of Chewbaccca...) though it ended up coming out ok.

It made me wonder, though, what the main cost savings is with these things. Passing some of the factory labor cost onto the consumer, in terms of time? The cost to ship it? The cost to store it? A kind of artificial price differentiator, so that they can charge more for the pre-assembled stuff? Or is it just the lowcost materials all around?

It's probably some of all of that, but according to some of my friends in retail management, shipping is likely one of the bigger issues. I guess shipping is by volume, not just weight, because they were talking about having to pay to "ship air" for things that are less dense, like an assembled piece.

Well, long live flatpack. The desk manufacturer had some kind of slogan like "making good furniture possible" and there is a bit of an egalitarian aspect to it all.

Slashdot Article of the Moment
Huh, some guy wondering if he can age himself out of a programming job, kind of tangentially related to the whole age discrimination issue. That's certainly a concern of mine... I don't really seem to have a management temperament, even though I feel I do pretty well as a technical lead, but at some point, people are going to start wondering why I'm content just being a developer...