IKEA to start selling Solar Panels in the UK – Weird Little Wrenches Included

solar panelsOk. I don’t actually know if those awkward little hex wrenches will be needed to install these panels on your home.

IKEA will soon begin offering solar panels at stores in Great Britain as a test market to see if this program can be expanded worldwide.  Great Britain was selected as it offers a good balance of energy pricing and state programs designed to offer consumers incentives when investing in solar.

Manufactured by the Chinese company Hanergy, the panels being offered will cost around $9200 for a 3.36 Kilowatt system, and IKEA estimates that it should take around seven years to pay them off. During that time, consumers should enjoy reduced energy pricing. In select markets, where IKEA can offer those services, any excess energy created might be able to feed back into the local energy grid. Depending on market pricing (which I’m sure will drop quickly if many people start producing excess power) you could even turn a profit faster than seven years.

While other big box consumer home improvement companies have offered panels before, IKEA looks to be taking a slightly more proactive approach to aiding consumers in the consultation and installation of their products. ¬†That, and you can get some delicious meatballs while shopping for those panels. Lowes and Home Depot should really look at partnering up with some gourmet food trucks…

(via AP)

Windows Phone hitting double digit market share in Europe

nokia lumia 920 windows phone 8 smartphone homescreen live tiles somegadgetguyI keep telling you people, the actual gadget matters less than the ecosystem of customers+hardware+software+accessories. You can’t fake that. Customers will not be impressed by one new handset no matter how good it is. Every manufacturer wants to jump into this market and sell as well as the iPhone does. It’ll never happen, and people forget that the iPhone didn’t just waltz into the smartphone market without some teething pains. Anymore, a company needs to show us at least three years of steady growth, refinement, and support before they’ll start to crack into consumer awareness.

Well wouldn’t you know it, Microsoft is getting to that three year point, and I’m starting to see the occasional Windows Phone out in the wild. Here stateside, MS is a distant third place competitor growing to only around 3% of the smartphone market, stealing the third spot from Blackberry. Recently announced by analysts at Kantar World Panel however, Windows Phone is cracking into double digit share in Europe. WP is within one percent of the iPhone in Germany, makes up 10% of the French market, and stands at 12% in Great Britain. Averaging the five largest European markets Windows Phone is currently at 9%.

The Nokia brand still counts for a lot in those markets, especially the blend of unique design and bleeding edge camera technology. Unfortunately Nokia somewhat abandoned us here in the States, so they’re pretty much rebuilding their consumer base from scratch. We do get to see some very general trends though, and from my anecdotal experiences, the push into entry level devices is serving Nokia very well. Doesn’t hurt that outlets like CNET can’t figure out the difference between a phone which costs $100 out the door, and a phone which costs $100 on contract. Surprisingly, Nokia’s 520 does a remarkably good job of competing against phones which cost four times as much.

Plus with a two faction war between Apple and Samsung, those consumers who want something a little different only have Microsoft to turn to. Never underestimate someone’s desire to go a little hipster. We live in an age where new smartphone consumers will know Apple like people from my generation saw Microsoft.

Read the full write up at Kantar World Panel.