Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ikea -1, Microsoft - 0

Lately I've been developing a fascination with all things Ikea. All this furnishing and buying of stuff has become a new and exciting challenge, as are many things these days.

Over the past years I've usually liked Ikea and many of the things it sells. I like the way it makes no bones about the price and the whole concept of less labour and less staff. I like the feel of looseness to it and I like Swedes. Not as much as Danes or potatoes but I still like them.

But I hate going to an Ikea store. They're always crowded, they're always in a place that's easy for most of the country to get to. What's all that about? It's as if they want to get crowds of people there to spend money or something.

Lo and behold. There I was a few weeks ago, perusing the Ikea catalogue and I saw a thing about online ordering, something I had thought they didn't facilitate. It looked to be the perfect answer to my problem. There'd be no traffic involved, no borrowing a van from work and certainly no mixing with crowds of poor quality people and fighting over the last flat packed wardrobe with a vaguely scandinavian sounding name.

I went online, I bought far more stuff than I can afford and I sat back and waited for the expected delivery date to come around. All of this needed a computer but, as I've got an Apple MacBook I think it's safe to say that I managed it without Mr Gates' help at all.

A couple of years ago I recall reading that Mr Ikea was the richest man in the world and had overtaken Bill Gates. This was a temporary thing as the dollar had crashed and the Swedish Rupee was worth a few quid, or something like that, I'm no economist, though you're probably suprised at that.

The thing is that I've been thinking lately about Mr Gates versus Mr Ikea and which of the two of them has done more for the world. The answer is obvious and the evidence is there for all to see. Mr Ikea's the clear and undisputed winner.

Bill may have given us the PC and brought computing to the masses, he may give all his income to charity now and he may be a marvellously nice chap. His credentials are good, his pedigree is unquestionable and his impact is big.

Bjorn however, is a different matter. The average home has 47.6 pieces of Ikea furniture in it and that doesn't include those drinking glasses with the stripes on them. Compare that with computers, of which there are 1 or 2 in every house and maybe a laptop or 2.

There's a whole endless cycle of things going on. Ikea's online shopping requires access to a computer. But, and I think you'll find my point beyond question, where would you be if you didn't have a chair to sit on while you were at your computer? Or how on earth would anyone exist without a desk lamp from Ikea?

Did you know this incredible fact? Worldwide, at any given time, there are exactly the same amount of Ikea Allen Key spanner things in use as there are PC laptops. I found it hard to believe myself but it's true, I read it somewhere.

Or are you fascinated by the names and little bits of writing about all the designers in the Ikea catalogue? Names and pictures of blonde and attractive looking twenty something Swedes with some words on the approach that they took to designing a new chair:

"I wanted to rethink the traditional view of what a chair should do, so came up with this. I spent many hours just looking at chairs, trying to bring freshness and colour to the traditional seating device and have invented this. We call it the "Tajvitor"."

And I may have confused myself a little bit with the speech mark thing too.

The PC, Windows and all that geekish stuff are all well and good, they serve a purpose and they do benefit a few.

But there's only one Ikea and it gets my vote everytime.


Indyana said...

I love Ikea too, and more than half my stuff comes from that place(even spoon holders and carpets!)...so I guess, out of loyalty...I'd vote for it too!

cerno said...

Another step IKEA has over M$ is that its owned by a non profit - devoted to interior design. The goofy details are hilariously described in the Economist

And of course ye olde wikipedia has something on it too.

Its all about innovative financial design to get around Swedish taxes..

Bea said...

I like to go to ikea at random times when it is quiet, and wander around among eerily empty displays...then it feels more like an abanndoned cruise ship than a shop.

S said...

Ikea doesn't impose itself like the boring bug-ridden operating system; hence it gets my vote.

It's pretty dull in itself though - the only parts I look forward to are the books in Swedish (to practise German comprehension) and the Swedish shop (my parents lived there for six months, so like to buy herrings etc).