Second-Hand Innovation: Getting the public involved

Speculations. Crazy Videos. Weird features. Trending Articles. The buzz never stops around an iDevice.

 And there’s nothing wrong in saying that the company has profited a lot not only from the hype but also from public ideas and perception of its products. In March this year Apple filed a patent application describing a hand held device with case made entirely out of glass. The idea had been doing rounds over the internet much before the innovators at Apple thought of copyrighting it.
Sensing the public expectations from a new concept decides the success of a product in the market. Over the last few years Apple has delivered consistently in this prospect. But, there are companies that invested millions of dollars on an idea, only to realize it was not hot in public domain. Gizmondo, a GPS enabled gaming device by Tiger Telematics, met an epic failure in the year 2005. The console sold just over 5000 units before the company went bankrupt. Motorola ROKR E1, a cell phone venture by Motorola in collaboration Apple iTunes, met with similar fate in 2005-06.

Judging the public mood is a difficult task and many great products have succumbed to it. Following the massive loses and threats of bankruptcy over such failures, companies these days have resorted to what may be termed as ‘Second-Hand Innovation’.

Second Hand Innovations refers to the concept of involving the public in the very making of a product. At first it may sound weird, but the concept is a popular and effective one. The basis of it lies in grazing through public minds and generating effective products that can withstand the market expectations. This requires the company to try conceive new ideas from public and deliberate over the expectations of its customers across the world.

For example, Huawei Telecommunications recently launched ‘Huawei Wish my smartphone had contest‘ in India. (NDTV VideoThe contest is not only helping the company with publicity and a larger customer base but also plunge into the thoughts and expectations of its future clients. This way the company gets innovative ideas and almost certain success at the launch of its new product.

Intel India launched ‘Intel Student Research Contest‘ with the research focus based on ‘Intel Research’ goals. Similar techniques of involving the customers in the making of a product are being exercised by other leading multinationals. They have often proved effective with an investment of mere publicity involved.

Another big advantage of Second Hand Innovation is it helps the company put up a product which has a great market utility. One of the major reasons of failure of innovative technologies is their public demand. Japanese engineers came up with Robotic Tiles that sense when a person wants to make the next step and place themselves right in before the person makes a move. The idea was great but had no market potential. Involving the public reduces this risk. It helps generate products that have the ability to provide a large customer base.

P.S. – A second opinion never harmed a business, but in today’s world, It’s the way to go.


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