Magazine article Management Today

Cutting Room

Magazine article Management Today

Cutting Room

Article excerpt

Ford focuses on a new best-seller; spying potential of the camera-phone; why the poor live longer in penury; magic moments at Mach 2 ... Evan Davis at large.

In the old TV sitcom Yes, Minister, Sir Humphrey had only to describe a new policy as 'Very courageous, Minister' for the hapless Jim Hacker to drop it immediately. In the same vein, I would say the decision of Ford to replace the existing Focus with a new model next year displays courage of the highest order.

The Focus is the best-selling car in the UK, with a 43% lead over its nearest rival; it is widely recognised as a design classic, and has just won AutoExpress's Best Family Hatchback title for the fifth successive year. It doesn't look or feel dated, and to withdraw such a product from the market implies that Ford executives possess ball-bearings of steel.

As it happens, I own a Focus. It was only when I was visiting Ford's research centre in Essex recently - a chance to admire such marvels as a machine that opens and closes a car door 150,000 times to ensure it works properly - that I learned my car was soon to be consigned to the category of retro design.

Ford normally gets things right - and it will certainly not be making a Hacker-like U-turn. But I look forward to seeing how the company can improve on what it has got.

The new new thing for this year is clearly the camera-phone. I don't credit the surge in sales of the flip-back devices to David Beckham's Vodafone ads, though they must have helped. People buy them because that's what the mobile phone stores are pushing. And great fun they are too. But has the business world cottoned on to the implications?

We now live in a society where many citizens are - with no intention of espionage - legitimately carrying a pocket-sized photographic device. I've heard that in Japan, students photograph textbook pages in stores, to save on the cost of buying them (although I find this hard to believe, as the quality has some way to go yet). But companies sensitive about people taking photos in the workplace should worry: car manufacturers, for example, with prototype designs around the place. Expect some lawsuit or other on this topic.

Worried about growing global inequality, about poor countries falling further behind the rich in income levels? The problem may be exaggerated, according to new research from the US. …

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