Betsy Beer: A Brew With Altitude

The Verge: Betsy Beer, from Cathay Pacific, is “a custom craft brew that the company says is the first in the world to be designed and calibrated to specifically taste better when you’re 35,000 feet up in the sky.”

“The beer will be available for the months of March and April to business and first class customers flying Cathay Pacific between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, as well as in Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong and Heathrow and several Hong Kong restaurants.”

“The beer itself is an unfiltered wheat beer, which should be less bitter than some hoppier varieties, and is carbonated 10 percent higher than regular sea-level beer. It also incorporates Hong Kong-sourced Dragon Eye fruit and English Fuggle hops as part of integrating both destinations into the beer.”


Nokia 3310: When Dumbphones Are Smart

The Atlantic: “How is it possible … that Nokia has announced an updated edition of one of its most popular phones of the early aughts, the 3310? In short, because nothing has become less sexy or less useful than a smartphone … there are reasons to prefer a phone as a portable communications tool instead of a compulsive, general-purpose computer.”

“Some of those reasons recall the original uses of the cell phone … mobile handsets often were bought as insurance against surprises or emergencies. People tossed them into automobile glove boxes, or carried them in pockets or purses only when the perception of risk or the need for coordination seemed required … An inexpensive, reliable handset with a long-lasting battery might turn the Nokia 3310 a second phone, or a backup phone … Should Nokia rekindle the cultural allure of the feature phone, perhaps its potential as a communications tool absent the urges of the smartphone will inspire parents to stop handing over these glass-and-metal temptations to their progeny without a second thought.”

“The simultaneous fragility and expense of smartphones also helps explain why the Nokia 3310 might appeal even to consumers who can afford better … when attending a concert or sporting event, thin smartphones might risk getting lost or stolen. In these instances, a $50 Nokia 3310 offers clear benefit … perhaps the need to keep a smartphone powered and connected to the network—not to mention the compulsion to use all those apps—would be reduced given a second device meant solely for communication … The future promise of Nokia’s device isn’t this particular device, but the alternate, unthought future it represents.”



Ikea’s Billy Bookcase: When Innovation is Boring

BBC: The Billy bookcase is perhaps the archetypal Ikea product. It was dreamed up in 1978 by an Ikea designer called Gillis Lundgren who sketched it on the back of a napkin, worried that he would forget it. Now there are 60-odd million in the world, nearly one for every 100 people – not bad for a humble bookcase.”

“The Billy is a bare-bones, functional bookshelf if that is all you want from it, or it is a blank canvas for creativity. On you will see it repurposed as everything from a wine rack to a room divider to a baby-changing station. But business and supply chain nerds do not admire the range for its modernity or flexibility. They admire it – and Ikea in general – for relentlessly finding ways to cut costs and prices without reducing the quality of the product. It demonstrates that innovation in the modern economy is not just about snazzy new technologies, but also boringly efficient systems.”

“The Billy bookcase isn’t innovative in the way that the iPhone is innovative. The Billy innovations are about working within the limits of production and logistics, finding tiny ways to shave more off the cost, all while producing something that looks inoffensive and does the job.”