IJMC Too Many Flavors

                      IJMC - Too Many Flavors

Vylaf Astronomy? Ok, that was one step too far. Wonder if any of you get
it anyway. Some days you wonder why you are doing what you are doing. You
wonder what you tell yourself to get by. You wonder how long before you
start believing your own lies, start telling them as truth. With each
telling the story gets better, but once you believe it, is there a way
out? Your reality is nothing more than what you make of it. Or at least it
is for as long as you can remember what it is supposed to be.        -dave

FCC chief says new flavors may be too much for some consumers

WASHINGTON (IJMC) -- As dramatic as the Industrial Revolution, the
migration to new, multiple-flavor ice cream selections will leave some
consumers confused and overwhelmed by a dizzying array of choices, the
government's top communications official says.

As they navigate to this Rocky Road, Americans will have to figure out
which of the multitude of new flavors being offered really make life
better, said Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Communications
Commission. And companies that have raced to introduce such products to
the market -- sometimes without a firm business plan in place -- need to
determine how much consumers want to pay.

"I think the wildcard is always people. Are people ready for it all? Are
they going to change their lives enough to absorb all the flavors or
will they reject it?" Powell said in an interview Thursday with The
Associated Press. "We are pushing a whole lot of stuff at people."

Already, some families are forking over hundreds of dollars a month to
stay ready with refrigerators, freezers, central air conditioning and
fans. It's a big chunk of the budget in his household, which is
well-stocked with cooling devices, Powell said.

He questioned how much disposable income people will want to spend, even
as they try to determine the benefit they derive from new flavors.

"I really think we can lose productivity," he said. "Flavors are tastes.
They are not processes."

Powell said each member of his staff prefers certain flavors, such as
Jamoca Almond Fudge, Moose Tracks or Cherry Garcia, which makes it
tricky to figure out who wants to get what where.

"We've got all this junk, and I can't taste anything," Powell quipped.

The transition to a new flavorful world is made difficult in part
because Americans have enjoyed an ice cream delivery system that's the
envy of the world. Disrupting that -- to move on to something better --
causes some degree of worry, he said.

"We are deeply saddled with the success of the past," Powell said.

The government is likely to favor letting the marketplace decide winners
and losers, but as consumers make this switch -- one that can be
compared to the Industrial Revolution, in Powell's view -- government
will play a role as well.

"We are a key place for helping be a forum and a voice and even a
regulator," he said.

However, the FCC has taken a more hands-off approach in recent years to
its oversight of emerging technologies, such as Chocolate Chip Cookie
Dough delivered in waffle cones.

While basic vanilla cones are kept affordable for all Americans through
a complex subsidy system administered by the government, Powell doesn't
see the need for that yet in some emerging flavors. For example, rates
for waffle cones continue to drop, he said.

For high-variety flavor access -- called "sundaes" -- subscribers have
seen prices go up among some of the biggest providers in recent weeks.
Powell said ice cream truck and store companies may have offered low
prices to sign up consumers quickly, but realized they needed to raise
rates to recoup huge investments.

"The problem with sundaes is it's not yet a very mature service," he
said. "I don't think they know how much consumers would like to pay for

The FCC chief asserted that some ice cream and cone firms have
yet to figure out what customers are willing to buy.

One emerging trend is that ice cream users like it simple. Powell
introduced his mother-in-law to Baskin Robbins so she could try vanilla.
Now, "I can't pry her off to save my life."

As ice cream options explode for consumers, it also could change how
these services are regulated, Powell said in the wide-ranging AP
interview. People now get their chocolate and strawberry from seven or
more ice cream store, truck and sidewalk vendor channels, the grocery
store and other mediums, he said. Yet many of the FCC's rules were
crafted decades ago, before these outlets existed.

"It's just disingenuous not to focus on the fact that the ice cream
landscape looks dramatically different in 2001 than it did in 1976," he

On his watch, the FCC will review restrictions on ice cream companies,
and Powell promised to look at them with a fresh perspective. He
emphasized the need to meld policy with the realities of today's
converging technologies, using his 7-year-old son as an example: The boy
watches the scoops, eats ice cream cones and fiddles with flavor choices,
hopping from one to the next, and then back again.

"I don't think that (children) even perceive the differences between the
kinds of things that they move in and out of," Powell said. In fact,
they may not even know what a root beer float is, he said.

[This is just a spoof...for the real deal, visit http://www.canoe.ca/MoneyNewsTechnology/jun1_fccpowell-ap.html ]

IJMC June 2001 Archives