Customer-driven innovation, open source style


According to [Eric Von Hippel of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology], in the past firms have mostly resisted customer innovation or not known what to do with it. American farmers were lobbying manufacturers to make cars with detachable back seats as early as 1909. It took Detroit more than a decade to "invent" the pick-up truck. Even now, carmakers respond to customer modifications such as performance-exhaust systems by voiding the warranty. Within three weeks of launching "Mindstorms", a build-it-yourself robot development system, in 1997, Lego was facing around 1,000 hackers who had downloaded its operating system, vastly improved it, and posted their work freely online. After a long stunned silence, Lego appears to have accepted the merits of this community's work: programs written in hacker language may now be uploaded to the Mindstorms website, for example.


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Customer-driven innovation, open source style