Tablets And Mass Customization: A Match Made In Heaven

With a hat tip to the mass-customization.info blog, a screen shot showing that the latest Blackberry Playbook commercial depicts a mass customization experience – the Converse Design Your Own collection. (See the entire video here).

Sarah Rotman Epps is the senior analyst on my team who leads our research on tablets (and consumer computing) for product strategy professionals. She’s written extensively about the future of tablets but also about the characteristics of software and media experiences that succeed on tablets. (Forrester clients can read “Best Practices for Media Apps,” for instance). At the same time, I have written about how mass customization is finally the future of products in an age when customer-centricity reigns.

Tablets and configurators – the typical tool that consumers use to co-design customized products – are a match made in heaven. They share a number of characteristics that product strategists should consider when developing mass-customized product interfaces. For example, they both:

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What Would You Sacrifice For An iPad?

I missed my chance today to save a young teenager from making a regretful decision.  A boy in China sold his kidney in order to buy an iPad. I’ve been researching how companies can lower their tablet investments and source tablets more effectively. The report will be published shortly, but sadly not in time to give me a shot at preventing him from this reckless act. As you can see, all of this excitement surrounding tablets is enabling people to make ill-fated decisions with damaging consequences. In fact, several of my sourcing and vendor management clients tell me stories of their executives pushing through tablet purchases without really thinking through whether they’re getting the best price or service.

Though this teenager bought his, presumably, through a consumer sales channel, large enterprises have other options, such as working with VARs. In my research I found that OEMs reward successful VARs with rebates and incentives for hitting specific PC and tablet sales quotas. Even Apple Channel Managers target specific strategic accounts in key industries and create special programs for VARs to help accelerate OS adoption, all in an effort to strengthen Apple’s tenuous grip in the tablet business market.  In my paper, I go into more detail about the advantages of the channel and present other sourcing alternatives.

Your situation may not be as tragic.  However, you need to ensure that you help you steer corporate leaders away from getting lost in the excitement of this emerging trend, focus on the bottom line, and avoid a bleak prognosis. In my report I’ll share some insights I’ve learned from other SVM professionals, but I’d also love to hear any stories you have about having done an enterprise deal for tablets. 

Assuming you didn’t have to give up body parts, what did you do to get a good deal?