Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Markets in Everything: Refrigerators $69 to $15k

Possibly the world's cheapest refrigerator, the $69 ChotuKool refrigerator above is being taken for field testing in rural India (it's scheduled for release in March 2010). The portable, top-opening unit weighs only 17 pounds, uses high-end insulation to stay cool for hours without power and consumes half the energy used by regular refrigerators. To achieve its efficiency the ChotuKool doesn't use a compressor, instead running on a cooling chip and a fan similar to those used in computers, so like computers it can run on batteries. It's engineering credentials are further boosted by the fact that it has only 20 parts, as opposed to more than 200 parts in a normal refrigerator. The ChotuKool was co-designed with village women (a "reverse engineering of sorts,” according a spokesman for the manufacturer) to assure its acceptability.

The quality and quantity of power these people have access to is very poor and consequently the country has very little development happening in rural areas. The power situation in rural India cannot be fixed overnight and until it is, products like this are needed to make people's lives a little better. Effective refrigeration in rural areas can help people extend their access to not only food, but also essential drugs.

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Possibly the world's most expensive refrigerators, the LG Internet Refrigerator pictured below has the coolest set of features ever seen in the kitchen. It is a 730 litre, stainless-steel, side-by-side fridge, with an in-built computer which can be accessed via a 15-inch touch-screen LCD monitor mounted on the fridge door. Users can watch TV, listen to MP3 music, take and store digital photos, make a video phone call, use the fridge as a message board or surf the web.

It also has VCR and DVD ports, a microphone and speakers. Information about food in the fridge can be stored and a map of the fridge allows the owner to keep an inventory of what foods are in each section and how long they have been there. It's biggest advantage will be its functionality as a food management system. It also has an inbuilt hard drive and modem, so that the appliance can be 'connected' by simply running a phone connection into it. $15,000 is the anticipated RRP when it's released later this year.


13 Comments:

At 12/31/2009 12:59 AM, Blogger randian said...

Modem and phone port? What kind of lame refrigerator has that? And no WiFi? This is 2010 (almost), if you don't have internal ethernet or WiFi in your house you have no business buying a $15k refrigerator.

 
At 12/31/2009 2:05 AM, Blogger Cabodog said...

A hard drive in a refrigerator? Give me a break. The last thing I want in my house is another thing with more parts that is going to break and be without a doubt, very expensive to diagnose and fix.

 
At 12/31/2009 2:47 AM, Blogger Chuck said...

The downside is that you have to haul this little $69 refrig on an oxen cart while contributing to global warming due to methane release. However curry powder does hide the residual effects of methane on the clothing.

As for the $15k refrig it definitely needs an Ipod port, BlueRay DVD drive and HD 1080 flatscreen, plus extended video game accessories. Who said conspicuous consumption was passe? Not Dennis Kozlowski.

 
At 12/31/2009 7:18 AM, Anonymous O Bloody Hell said...

jorge looks in the mirror and sees a big fat spammer.

 
At 12/31/2009 9:06 AM, Anonymous Lyle said...

Actually there are a couple of markets in the US for the $69 fridge. 1 camping with a car, where it makes a way to keep food cool without haveing to run a generator, or get ice. Second sailboats which have small wind generators again as an alternative to an ice chest.

 
At 12/31/2009 11:20 AM, Blogger David said...

"The ChotuKool was co-designed with village women ("reverse engineering") to assure its acceptability"...it's a nit, but that's not what "reverse engineering" means. Reverse engineering is when you get a functioning product (from a competitor, most typically) and take it apart to figure out how it works.

 
At 12/31/2009 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU try and take a woman apart and figure out what makes them tick. Good luck.

 
At 12/31/2009 11:24 AM, Blogger QT said...

Lyle,

Possibly..although the need in developing countries is far greater.

Chances are that this isn't bling enough for anyone who would blow $75k plus on a sailboat unless of course, they happen to be into enviro-sheek. Camping...maybe but most folks just buy a 12V job that runs off the car battery. These 2 markets have many competing products while rural India doesn't.

Not saying it won't happen..but there isn't the same degree of need.

 
At 12/31/2009 11:26 AM, Blogger QT said...

good one, Anon...even we women aren't able to do that and we're familiar with the basic model.

 
At 12/31/2009 2:40 PM, Blogger Mark J. Perry said...

David: According to a spokesman for the manufacturer, it was a "reverse engineering of sorts.” Sorry, I shortened it and left out the "of sorts."

 
At 12/31/2009 2:49 PM, Anonymous Titus Pullo said...

I have always wanted a refrigerator with a built-in TV so I don't miss any commercials while I'm getting a beer during a time out.

 
At 12/31/2009 6:35 PM, Blogger OA said...

Refrigerators with a built in TV cost less than $3,000. So it's running over $12,000 to add the PC.

Of course someone will buy it, but doesn't seem like a good upgrade. Better would be a flat panel touchscreen PC on some swing arm underneath a cabinet. HP has some decent ones now. You could then throw about 10 of them out when the screens got greasy fingerprints and still have money left over.

 
At 12/31/2009 8:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The $69 fridge doesn't sound like such a great deal. I bought a minifridge at walmart for $54 and it actually refrigerates the contents. So, I don't really see why the $69 fridge is as expensive as it is with so few parts and no compressor. It's a great thing, but I think they could easily get the cost down.

 

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