Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Disruptive Technology

Quizno's is a national chain of sandwich shops whose selling point has always been--toaster ovens. I know, that sounds unlikely, but their entire advertising campaign has been built around the ability to get a toasted sub.

I walked into Subway this week and saw--a toaster oven. I asked the manager what percentage of customers were asking for toasted subs, and he said "Oh, about forty percent."


An anonymous source sent me a tape recording of an emergency meeting of Quizno's executives. See transcript below. I was unable to identify individual speakers by name.

"Gentlemen, I think you all know why we're here. It's now been confirmed by satellite thermal imaging that Subway has developed the toaster oven."
"Thieving bastards!"
"They had a mole."
"I think we've got a damned good case for industrial espionage."
"I thought we copyrighted the toaster oven."
"It would be a patent, and we can't patent the toaster oven."
"It's that kind of advice, Burger, that got us into this mess. I've argued for five years that we couldn't patent the toaster oven--but we could patent the sandwich and toaster oven working together. If only you legal eagles had listened to me."
"Smunderson, didn't you say that Carcass and Undercarriage had been investigating whether engineering had been compromised?"
"They're looking hard at a heating element engineer named Largesse."
"Damn the French!"
"He told some co-workers that he thought toaster oven technology was too powerful to be left in the hands of one sandwich company."
"How did he do it?"
"We think he used a garage sale as a drop point. Once they had a working unit, it was only a matter of time."
"Damn it! Where is he now?"
"Last week, he defected. We have intelligence photographs of him in a Subway."

The tape ran out here. Thank goodness for you.

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