Learning Curves

“So certain is the plummet of prices that economists have mapped the curve of their fall. The cost of making something–whether it is steel, light bulbs, airplanes, flower pots, insurance policies, or bread–will drop over time as a function of the cumulative number of units produced. The more an industry makes, the better it learns how to make them, the more the cost drops. The downward price curve, propelled by organizational learning, is sometimes called the learning curve. Although it varies slightly in each industry, generally doubling the total output of something will reduce the unit cost on average by 20%.

Smart companies will anticipate this learning curve. Very smart companies will accelerate it by increasing volumes, one way or another. Since increasing returns can exponentially expand the demand of items–doubling their totals in months–network effects speed the steep fall of prices.”

-In Follow The Free from Kevin Kelly’s New Rules for the New Economy (available for free at kk.org)

“Costs Go Down” is the first section of the ebook Free to Flexible: Four Simple Lessons About Cost, Price, Margin and The Options Available to The 21st Century Business. You can download it here.

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