The vaunted X prize programs have always made headlines. In 2007 the lesser known L Prize was launched with the goal of making a bulb to replace the standard, “incandescent” 60-watt bulb. The winner, and only entrant, was Netherlands-based Philips. Their entrant will be making it’s consumer debut this Sunday, April the 22nd, 2012 for $60 at several retailers such as the Home Depot, and Lowes.
Why $60? That’s the price that reflects the cost of the components, especially the top-notch chips, or diodes, that give off the light, and that’s the price commercial customers will pay. But Philips is discounting it right away to $50 for consumers, and working on deals with electric utilities to discount it even further, by as much as $20 to $30.
The other question being asked is why does the government need to fund program to create a better light bulb that a company that isn’t even based here won? Couldn’t we have left this up to individual companies to figure out on their own dollar? No risk equals no reward type of proposal? Ed Crawford, the head of Philips’ U.S. lighting division, said “It’s the question we always receive: ‘Well gee, wouldn’t the technology have developed this way without the L Prize?’ I think it absolutely would have. The real question is: ‘How quickly would it have happened?”