…pathbreaking research by a group of scholars including Eric A. von Hippel, a professor of technological innovation at M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, suggests that the traditional division of labor between innovators and customers is breaking down.
Financed by the British government, Mr. von Hippel and his colleagues last year completed the first representative large-scale survey of consumer innovation ever conducted.
What the team discovered, described in a paper that is under review for publication, was that the amount of money individual consumers spent making and improving products was more than twice as large as the amount spent by all British firms combined on product research and development over a three-year period.
“We’ve been missing the dark matter of innovation,” Mr. von Hippel said from his office in Cambridge, Mass. “This is a new pattern for how innovations come about.”
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And there’s the leading argument for not tying up your product in a proprietary anti-modification knot. People will modify stuff to best fit their needs, not yours. And will buy stuff that they can modify… Which just might put you at a disadvantage.
Congrats to Von Hippel. Also nice press for diybookscanner, although more than 250 people have built book scanners, not 50.