Competition in the Bathroom
For many years, a common graffito in men’s rooms was: “Wash hands, place hands under blow dryer, dry hands on pants.” The old-fashioned low-powered dryers didn’t have enough power to dry hands well in any reasonable amount of time. No more: about 10 years ago the Dyson Airblade was marketed, and it was revolutionary: 10 or 15 seconds and one’s hands really were dry.
I assume that they were expensive, which is why I only saw them in a few places, even in the U.K., where they originated. Today they are much more widespread. They aren’t cheap (I see a discounted price of £615), but I bet they have come down in price. Why? The answer is competition: other companies are now making equally effective products, both in the U.S. and the U.K. An innovating entrepreneur may enjoy a monopoly for a while, but competitors with similar products will enter the market, forcing prices down (and increasing consumer surplus for now dry-handed users like me!).