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But, what people valued, and what led to SGI's rebound, had little to do with their line of servers used to make animated movies competing with those made by Pixar.

Pixar makes movies, not servers. Rather than being competitors, Pixar would more likely be a customer. As it happens, though, Pixar uses Sun systems and therefore is not a customer of SGI.

When you consider the amount of time and effort that goes into making animated movies, it seems like such a waste compared to the benefits to be reaped from more productive applications.

Just to get into a purely philosophical argument, I'll take the stance that Pixar provides a very valuable service to people around the world. Entertainment may not be necessary to sustain life, but it's part of what makes life bearable. Imagine a world without movies, theaters, music, television, plays, books, Internet, and so on. Imagine life working from dawn to dusk without holidays to enjoy with friends and family. Life would be pretty darned bleak.

Providing entertainment is a very valuable business for the psychological well-being of people around the world.

Which isn't to say the innovations Pixar has contributed to the world of computer animation can be used purely for entertainment purposes. I've seen computer animation used on the Discovery Channel to show what the world might have been like thousands or millions of years ago. I don't know if Pixar's software had anything to do with that, but theoretically it could.

If Pixar didn't provide what people believed to be a valueable service in the form of entertainment, they wouldn't pay money for it. But they have. Lots of it. Over and over again. There are plenty of benefits to be reaped by society in terms of psycological well-being that's difficult if not impossible to measure accurately.

Anyhow, it's a feel-good kind of company. I'd much rather invest in a company making movies than one making smart bombs--even if they're meant to be used to blow up terrorists. All else being equal, of course. It's fun to own companies where I actually buy and use their products/services myself. Give me a yogurt company over one that manufactures battlefield radios anyday.

-- Ryan
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