Still Electric, not so General

GE still plans to bring good things to life, just not anything you’re likely to own:

“We are the largest and most profitable infrastructure company in the world,” GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt said of the Fairfield, Conn.-based company’s identity in its 2013 annual report.

The company reinforced that message this week when it confirmed that it is in talks to sell its $2 billion appliances business to one of several possible bidders, including the appliance maker Electrolux. Several news outlets reported that Quirky, a New York-based startup that uses crowdsourcing to quickly develop its household products, is also interested in GE’s appliance business.

If a sale of the unit is completed, the company’s iconic toasters, refrigerators and washing machines may retain the GE brand name — but will no longer be made by the company. “Most U.S. consumers are not going to be touched day-to-day in a way that they know” by GE-made products, said Brian K. Langenberg, principal of Langenberg & Company.

Saturday night, I installed a GE-branded mouse on my desktop ($8.99, Target). It was of course made in China; the actual distributor is Oklahoma City-based Jasco Products, as revealed in the three-page (!) operations manual. (Actually, it was six pages, though 4 through 6 were basically 1 through 3 in Spanish.) It will be touched day-to-day, but GE didn’t have a thing to do with its production.


  1. ms7168 »

    19 August 2014 · 8:12 am

    I was told several years ago to avoid GE products. My folks, however, own a Hotpoint (made by GE) refrigerator that they bought when they bought their home 33 years ago and it’s still running.

    You could go up to 63rd to Big Lots and get an HP branded three button USB mouse for $7.00.

  2. fillyjonk »

    19 August 2014 · 12:51 pm

    I don’t like this trend of companies either buying the names of once-good-but-now-dead companies. (I refer to Tensor, the lamp-maker, as Zombie Tensor now after I bought a Tensor branded product that was absolute crud, nothing like the good lamps of years back) or of companies outsourcing production to where-the-hell-ever and then just coasting on the fact that most people are fooled at least once into believing they are still a good brand.

    Kenmore. Kenmore is another brand that used to be great but from what I’ve heard recently from people, has really bit the big one.

  3. Roger Green »

    20 August 2014 · 4:11 am

    I live near Schenectady, NY, when once thousands of GE workers worked, making GE products. There’s now a Quirky store downtown.

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