Apple's new iPhone 5 is a case study in incremental improvement. Nearly every aspect of the product -- the CPU, display, cameras, radio modem, size, weight, etc. -- are all improved over the iPhone 4S and at the same $199 price point. No doubt, the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 will sell millions of units, preserve Apple's momentum, and hold off the competition, but significant threats are mounting that Apple cannot afford to ignore:
Nokia is delivering Apple-quality innovation. As Nokia demonstrated last week at its Lumia 920 event, Nokia's innovation engine is firing on all cylinders. When the Lumia 920 launches (rumored for November 2), it will outclass the iPhone 5 in key areas such as imaging (PureView imaging, Cinemagraph) and location (Maps, City Lens, Transit) as well as bring wireless charging and NFC into the mainstream. While the breadth of accessories will be nowhere near what the iPhone offers, Nokia gets strong marks for showing Apple how NFC can enhance the accessory experience.
Here's a flash of the blindingly obvious: More and more products are going digital. You know this, but what I'm interested in is how they are going digital and to what degree. I see three major aspects: (1) the product itself becomes digital; (2) a physical product adds digital technology; and/or (3) processes and context around a physical product become digitally infused. Let me offer a sort of continuum of examples, and then I want to ask a question:
Music (nearly 100% digital). The greater part of music bought these days is in the form of a 100% digital product.
Health band. With a health band (e.g., Fitbit, Nike FuelBand), I don't really care about the physical product, but I'll put up with it to get the digital benefit: lots of data (and more) about my workouts and health.
Cameras. A digital camera is a physical product that uses a combination of physical and digital technology, and I actually care about some of its physical design (e.g., lenses). It produces a 100% digital artifact (photos), and the process around the photos is digitally infused.
USB picture frame. Part physical, part digital. By replacing the center of a picture frame with a digital screen, I get a new twist on an old standby. But, working with the digital part still requires a high degree of physical manipulation (carry a USB drive to the frame, etc., etc.).
WiFi picture frame. Part physical, even more digital. The WiFi bit bumps it way above a USB picture frame in terms of seamless integration into a digital world. I can email a picture to the thing, or maybe tag a photo on Facebook and suddenly it shows up.
As a product strategist, do you struggle with a sluggish innovation “process” in your firm? Do you think it takes too long to identify great ideas and turn those ideas into compelling new products and services for your customers? If you’re like most of your peers, the answer to both questions is probably a resounding "yes." That is exactly why Forrester’s Consumer Product Strategy practice developed The Open Innovation (OI) Playbook.
Forrester defines open innovation as:
The act of innovating, whereby new ideas or methods are requested from three broad participant groups: employees, partners, and customers.
This approach to innovation is in stark contrast to the typically closed and often secretive product innovation practices that most firms still use today. Our OI playbook provides you with an end-to-end framework, organized in twelve easy-to-find modules, and designed to give you the insight, tools, and best practices that you need to successfully adopt an open innovation approach within your organization.
To get started, I suggest reading the Executive Overview: “Revolutionize Products And Services Through Open Innovation”. This report will set the stage at a high level for you. Then, depending on where you are in your open innovation journey, you can “pick your spots” by navigating directly to the most applicable chapter for your needs. In general, the OI playbook is divided in to four phases as follows:
We live in a world punctuated by big innovations. From fire and the wheel down to the light bulb and the iPad, we mark the march of history by the steady beat of transformative innovations. Except that steady beat is no longer so steady. The rate at which these life-altering innovations are coming to market is accelerating so quickly that it's no longer sufficient to invoke even Moore's Law to explain them.
Not only are new things being introduced more swiftly than before but consumers are adopting them more rapidly than before. I make my living studying early adopters, but recently I've had to throw many hard-earned lessons out the window. Because in a world where Microsoft sold 8 million Kinect cameras for the Xbox 360 in just two months, traditional definitions of "early adopter" became irrelevant after about week two.
This is both exciting and maddening. We've spent that last several years watching the acceleration of innovation to figure out what is making this rate of innovation possible and we've discovered that innovating at this pace is tricky, but doable, with the right approach.
These are exciting—and challenging—times for anyone who is responsible for developing, managing, and innovating consumer products. Why? Because digital technology is disrupting everything—the way we communicate with each other; the way we access, store, and share information; the way we purchase and interact with the products and services we use every day; and yes—even the way in which we actually pay for those products and services. Whether you like it or not, digital disruption is happening everywhere, it’s happening fast, and it’s accelerating.
This article on consumerinnovation that appeared in The New York Times over the weekend was fascinating. It points to a new study conducted in the UK on the role customers play in innovation in consumer markets. A key finding was that:
“6.2% of UK consumers — 2.9 million individuals — have engaged in consumer product innovation during the prior 3 years. In aggregate, consumers’ annual product development expenditures are 2.3 times larger than the annual consumer product R&D expenditures of all firms in the UK combined.”
Study author Eric A. Von Hippell, of the MIT Sloan School of Management, said, “We’ve been missing the dark matter of innovation. This is a new pattern for how innovations come about.”
Well, maybe not so new. The NYT journalist, Patricia Cohen, goes on to point out that “The very study of collaborative user innovation is a relatively new phenomenon that began only in the mid-1990s when advocates for open-source software began to argue that computer code should be freely available for thousands of independent minds to play with and improve.” “They overturned the widely held model,” Ms. Cohen quoted Carliss Y. Baldwin, a business administration professor at the Harvard Business School, adding: “What makes Eric’s work so significant is that it is unprecedented to try to measure the extent of user innovation. He shows that we’ve had on a set of mental blinders.”
I'd like to invite you to participate in an exciting new forum for discussion: our community for Consumer Product Strategy professionals!
The community is a place for product strategists to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Forrester analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.
Right now, we already have discussions going on the topics of product co-creation, creating video content for your product or brand, and the effects disruptive technologies like the iPad have on product strategies. These vibrant conversations are just getting started, but they're already pretty exciting discussions.
In general, here's what you’ll find
A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues.
Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories and best practices.
Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders
I encourage you to become part of the community:
Ask a question about a complex business problem.
Start a discussion on an emerging trend that’s having an impact on your work.
Contribute to an existing discussion thread from a community member.
Suggest topics for upcoming Forrester research reports.
Create a community profile.
Share your perspective with others.
The community is open to both Forrester clients AND to non-clients. Why not visit today?