Blaine Barnard

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On November 17, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on GoPro: The Defiance of the Smartphone Era :

Great stuff. I wonder if GoPro will succeed not by staving off disruption from smartphones, but by forcing its own disruption on the legacy handheld camera market. The 4K video quality offered by the GoPro model mentioned above approaches the capabilities of far more expensive and larger equipment.

On a recent vacation I pulled out my Sony DSLR to take a picture. Multiple HBS classmates expressed surprise that I owned a “real” camera!

This is great work, Hide. I did not realized Fujifilm was so diversified. I think Fujifilm also deserves credit for taking digital imaging more seriously than Kodak did. Indeed, some of their compact cameras are among the most respected on the market. Fujifilm deserves a lot of credit for identifying new fields (like cosmetics) where their legacy expertise (like dyes) allowed for competitive entry and not just increased R&D expenses.

Ranjani, this is very interesting. I think the demand for digital customer service models is driven by a generational shift. Older customers prefer “high touch” experiences with personalized human attention; younger customers may find these same experiences tedious. I wonder if Hilton will consider a dual-tier customer service experience that allows guests to opt in or out of human or digital interactions according to their preference.

On November 17, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on Eyes and ears in the sky :

Stefan, great post! The ability to track AIS signals beyond the reach of shore receivers could be a powerful tool for commercial shipping firms and maritime insurers. Inexpensive nanosatellite constellations could also replace coastal radar systems that are beyond the budget of many developing country security forces.

On November 17, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on F-35 – Fighter Jet Maintenance in The Age of Data :

I wonder if Lockheed could mitigate the cyber-security risk by eliminating the wireless data links between the aircraft and ground stations. Maintenance data could simply be downloaded manually from the aircraft upon return to base. Of course, this would eliminate the ability to diagnose issues in flight and minimize ground time between flights.

“Reports from 2015 suggests that 80% of issues identified by ALIS are “false positives” – maintenance problems that simply do not exist.”

Sounds like a sterling effort by the Lockheed Martin maintenance sales team! In all seriousness, this seems like it might create risky mistrust by aviators of key diagnostic systems.

On November 17, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on Recreating the Harvard Book Store :

Really interesting post! I think the unique value of the Espresso Book Machine – to Harvard Bookstore patrons, at least – might be the ability to print a book not otherwise available in hard copy format via Amazon or other online retailers. If Mayersohn can ensure and emphasize this capability then he might provide valuable differentiation that keeps his machine from competing directly with the e-book providers that have decimated brick and mortar bookstores.

On November 6, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on Volkswagen’s Electric Rebound :

Maria, thanks for weighing in! I understand the German government is providing the incentives using money sourced in part from VW, Mercedes, and BMW (that is, the broader German auto industry). The auto companies’ contributions are likely weighted based on market share.

I concur 100% that supporting lasting market adoption of electric vehicles would be a more meaningful way to address VW’s activities than a simple fine. Perhaps VW could pay its restitution in the form of public electric vehicle recharging infrastructure? I’m thinking of things like recharging stations at gas stations, in public garages, or elsewhere.

On November 6, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on Miami is going to sink… and the Latin Americans are going to pay for it :

Like Monica, I lived in Miami and saw how Miami real estate was aggressively marketed to foreign investors (usually Latin American) looking to protect their money from instability and inflation elsewhere. I think there are three factors behind the lack of dialogue in Miami and other vulnerable markets regarding the likely long term impact of rising sea levels on property:

– It is a long term problem; buyers in 2016 are unconcerned what their neighborhood will look like in 2070
– There exists a sense of fatalism compounded by poor understanding of key data and little faith in scientific forecasts
– People assume, perhaps unrealistically, that society will “figure it out”, or “cross that bridge when we get to it”

Thanks for posting this excellent analysis!

On November 6, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on ‘Mother of All Risks’: Climate Change and the U.S. Armed Forces :

In 2012 I was heartened to see the DoD recognize climate change as a risk to both U.S. military infrastructure (in the U.S. and abroad), and as a likely root cause of future wars and humanitarian disasters. However, I’m not sure what this recognition really means for the U.S. military.

For example, the U.S. Navy maintains the biggest Navy base in the world in Norfolk, Virginia, a city identified by scientists as extremely vulnerable to even minor rises in sea levels. The problem is bad and getting worse – high tides combined with one inch of rain were enough to leave six or more inches of water in the streets when I lived in Norfolk in 2014. That said, there is nothing the U.S. Navy can really “do” about the problem. The base is located where the base is located – the U.S. Navy cannot realistically move it. Slowing climate change and mitigating its effects is arguably the job of other branches of the U.S. government.

For their part, the Marine Corps and other expeditionary forces of the U.S. military have doubled down on training for Humanitarian Assistance, Disaster Relief, Non-Combat Evacuation Operation (NEO), and other non-kinetic operations likely to be caused by extreme weather events or resource crisis linked to climate change.

On November 6, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on Boston Steps Up Fight Against Climate Change :

This is a great post! I agree with Mike that Boston’s efforts are incremental and may not represent the structural change needed to seriously lower greenhouse gas emissions by Boston’s city government or population.

Given Boston’s disastrous traffic and parking it seems that the city could lower vehicle miles traveled by far more than the (nearly trivial) 0.5% reduction noted above. There are prosperous and popular Boston neighborhoods – the South End, Back Bay, and South Boston come to mind – that remain poorly served by public transportation. If expanding the “T” is cost prohibitive perhaps Boston could explore a modern streetcar system (as Kansas City successfully implemented) or an elevated train.

Bottom line: driving in Boston is miserable. I am surprised that Boston cannot figure out a way to convince people to do it less often. There is low hanging fruit here.

On November 6, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on From Evian to Naïve – it’s time to throttle the plastic bottle :

CordeliaShackleton, this is truly remarkable analysis! You article makes me wonder what Evian and other bottled water producers could do to remain relevant should the market shift away from disposable plastic bottles due to legislation or consumer preference (or both). Could they establish a system through which consumers purchase Evian in more durable bottles that are returned to Evian for refill and reuse? There is a precedence for this in the sale and distribution of bulk bottled water (i.e. the multi-gallon jugs that sit on office water coolers) and niche dairy products (some organic milk producers still distribute reusable glass bottles). Evian would be disadvantaged by lower margins, of course.

Could Evian establish “refill stations” where customers bring Evian or other personally owned, reusable water bottles to be filled with Evian-branded purified water? I’m thinking of a setup akin to the water bottle refill stations present at music festivals or large concerts, only located near the entrance of a supermarket or convenience store.

I agree 100% that the proliferation of bottled water makes little sense in the developed world where tap water is high quality and nearly free. Perhaps the next great environmental step is to focus on superior water treatment in the developing world, where many consumers feel dependent on water sold in disposable bottles due to sub-standard or even dangerous local tap water.

Thanks for posting!

On November 6, 2016, Blaine Barnard commented on Climate change, an opportunity for high-speed train manufacturers. :

I agree with PThatai. Rail infrastructure (and its general poor state of readiness) remains the limiting factor for expanding passenger rail service in the United States. Additionally, existing U.S. rail infrastructure located beyond the Atlantic northeast is committed to commercial freight use.

I am interested to know how CO2 emissions relative to rail PKM (for passengers) and TKM (for freight) are calculated. I would imagine that rail emissions are variable depending on the local electricity source. So, a rail line in Japan powered by a nuclear plant might “emit” no CO2, while a very similar line in Connecticut powered by a coal plan might emit quite a bit. The accounting challenges are real.

I enjoyed this article and am curious to know how other rail equipment manufacturers (like Siemens and Bombardier) are competing or not competing with Alstom in this sector.