Don Marti

Thu 05 Feb 2009 10:28:53 AM PST


Alameda to Potrero Hill, San Francisco: 35 minutes. That's using the Alameda Virtual Bus, which you can catch at Webster and Santa Clara, on the Santa Clara side outside Tilly's. I know, I know, it's a Casual Car Pool, but I like "virtual bus" better. (High-tech version: Carticipate) Anyway, the reason for driving the virtual bus instead of commuting alone is so that you can use the carpool lane and skip the tollbooth going west on the Bay Bridge.

That toll plaza is something that the Bay Area Toll Authority gets right, and a lot of companies in the IT industry get wrong. Instead of putting a toll plaza on both sides and charging $2 a car, they put it on one side and charge $4.

Meanwhile, some companies offer hardware for a price, as well as a proprietary software driver or utility to use it. If the hardware isn't easily clonable, that's one more tollbooth than you need. Even if the software is free of charge, there's still a transaction cost to tracking the license and an integration cost. If you have some exclusive advantage, or unique selling proposition for the hardware, put the tollbooth on one side, and make the software as easy to get as possible. (Joel Spolsky's explanation is still one of the best.) Easier than getting on the Bay Bridge going east shouldn't be hard.