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<i>Wal-Mart Is Pushing Compact Fluorescent Bulbs</i>

Wednesday, 3 January, 2007

This may be the wacky headline today. It made Slashdot early today with the comments trying to work out just what Wal-Mart is up to. I shall attempt a pragmatic view. The profit margin on these items should be considerably more than their less efficient and more readily replaced incandescent counterparts, but, over time, the profit margin on one six-year bulb would be less than that of the thirty-or-so incandescent replacements.

This is part of the long-range campaign which lead Wal-Mart to underwrite NPR programs in 2004 and 05. Many words are wasted attempting to work out whether mere appeal to sitcom-viewers, Chik-Fil-A eaters and the self-described majority of Christian Center attendees actually works to keep a monstrous multi-national in genuine GM parts. I’m going out on a limb here and saying no.

Wal-Mart is pushing “green” tech. Kissing the asses, albeit gently, of mainstream outsider causes. Wal-Mart closed 2006 with lowered same-store sales for the first time in their history.

We will see unWal-Mart like things from Bentonville because people like us don’t go there. They can’t run the company exclusively on loss leaders and no-margin groceries. Wal-Mart is in trouble. The financials look good right now, but they won’t for long. They have to do good guy stuff that won’t affect their method of operations. Through this, compelling technologies may get pushed to the unwashed masses yearning to pay down their credit cards.

Target and perhaps Sears may respond in kind. Home Depot is doing so already. It’s going to get weird. It may get good.

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