The bloom box is currently in its introductory stage of the product life cycle (pg 190). There are a few companies testing out large scale models but they are still working out the kinks and working to drive down the cost and price for consumers. Fortunately for Bloom many States offer tax incentives that help lower the cost but those incentives could be cut and the future of the Bloom Box is far from certain. The rate of adoption (pg. 188) could be very slow at the consumer level as this would be a huge shift for people moving from the grid to having a fuel cell in the basement. The level of complexity is very high and few people will understand how it works. The compatibility also will be an issue, this isn't something you can just buy at the store and plug it in. The relative advantage could also take a while as the cost of energy could remain fairly cheap for the foreseeable future with the natural gas boom. Observeability will also be an issue as a Bloom Box will likely be located in the backyard near the air-conditioning unit, unlike highly visible solar panels. Finally the trailability will be a final hurdle as the Bloom Box will be a semi complex install in someone's house and can't be easily returned.
Bloom Energy is currently testing out their product or "test marketing" (pg. 184) their product with companies such as Google, EBay and FedEx. They have used these real world customers work out the kinks such as facing the air intake away from the highway. These test site are also located relatively near the Bloom Energy headquarters further limiting the costs of maintenance and repair during their initial learning curve. The location in California is also key as California has some of the most pro clean energy legislature and incentives in place helping to keep the cost to their customers down.
Looking at the types of consumer products (pg. 166) I think the Bloom Box falls into the specialty and unsought product description. People don't like to look at their energy bills but few people actively look for alternative energy options. Unless someone is a big fan of 60 minutes (like me) they likely have never heard of the Bloom Box and it could stay that way without aggressive marketing and advertising. Due to the unique technology and concept the bloom box could become a status symbol for people who like to be early adopters.
The fantastic opportunity for growth in the alternative/green energy field has barely been tapped. Bloom Box is an innovative company that has had the good fortune to launch it's product with the help of other innovative companies, Google, eBay and Fed Ex. These industry leaders in the development and implementation of new tech help fuel the products and services of tomorrow through research and development as well as trial and error.
Every product has a life cycle and Bloom Box is in the growth stage of of their life cycle. With heavy hitters like Wal-Mart using the tech, Bloom Box is bound to be highly successful. But, as with all tech today, the time gap between research, development, production and mass marketing makes most tech nearly obsolete by the time it is mass marketed and readily available to all areas of the public or private sector.
The after the maturity cycle, comes decline. With the costs so far coming in at $400 million, it is important that the growth stage be a strong one so that once the product enters the maturity stage and other manufactures enter the market place (driving prices down), profits have been taken and reinvested in the next big thing.
I agree, the green "clean tech" field is full of opportunities and great start ups like Bloom Energy. One thing I think you misunderstood was the cost. Each large Bloom Box is $700-$800 thousand each but with state and federal incentives the price is cut in half so each box only costs the companies $350k-$400k each. This is still allot of money but the interviewee from EBay also said the Bloom Box's had saved his company $200k in the first 6 months in energy costs, so with time they will cover their initial costs and then continue to save them money. I think the $400 million you heard was the money raised from investors.