There is a saying (by Emerson apparently, probably before he teamed up with Lake and Palmer): “Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.”
People who work in marketing will obviously disagree strongly with this, arguing that people will beat a path to your door only after a lot of market research, a load of branding think-tank sessions and an intensive bus-shelter ad campaign, but never mind that. I would suggest that there should be another saying: “Build a load of crap and, if you sell it cheaply enough, people will beat a path to your door, even if using it is going to endanger their own customers.”
I offer in supporting evidence the café teapot.
Order tea in a café and the waitress will bring a small metal teapot. The same type of metal teapot is used in every café everywhere in the world, the manufacturers obviously have the type of monopoly on teapots that Monopoly has on board games. The waitress will bring it on a tray, and will transfer it on to your table by holding it through a cloth. This is because she knows the handle will be hot, and she has learnt this, over time, by the empirical method.
Although, as I’ve said just recently, Science was not my strongest school subject, some stuff did sink in. Even I remember something called conduction, which would tell me that a metal handle attached to a hot metal pot will quickly become as hot as the pot itself. It seems the manufacturers of these teapots paid even less attention in Science than I did, or perhaps they did Latin instead.
Grasp the handle and you will burn your hand. You will swear, grab one of those tiny serviettes they give you and, using it both as a bandage and an oven-glove, you will pick up the pot and pour.
Most of the tea will waterfall out onto the tablecloth. There is no known way of stopping this.
You will look at the small amount of tea that has managed to find the cup and will notice that it is the colour of widdle. The answer to this is to squeeze the solitary tea bag with a spoon, and to do this you will need to lift the lid by the nubbiny thing on the top. This is also made of metal, though it will be too late when you think of this.
The startling thing about all this is that we don’t learn. The manufacturers still make them, the cafés still buy them and we, no matter how often we’ve done it before, still burn ourselves on them next time.
Who needs to build a better mousetrap, when the mice are happy hurling themselves onto the old one.