DBoard (openmoko)
Further on my earlier theme of “we are all hackers now“, here is a long feature on user-generated devices by Fumitada Takahashi and Phil Keys in the Nikkei Electronics Asia magazine (Japan).

“User-Generated Devices (UGD), allowing people to enjoy themselves making their own equipment with friends, are making a showing in the electronics industry, fueled by the outsourcing of development and manufacturing, open constituent technologies, and other trends. Only companies capable of discarding the paradigm of volume production will be able to evolve apace with this new dimension in user participation.”

The article cites Sir Howard Stringer, chief executive officer (CEO) of Sony. In an interview with Stringer, he endorses customer understanding and open technology:

“Consumers today are a lot different from how they were 20 years ago. They aren’t passive any more. The spread of the Internet has given them the power to dictate how products are used, and an increasing number of people are discovering new ways to have fun, such as by creating their own content.

A diverse range of electronics will be connecting to the Internet in the near future, tapping Web-based services, and we have to think about what we need to do to make our customers – the king – like our products. I think the key to this lies in watching our customers. If a Sony employee were to ask me what a reasonable market price might be for distributing video to the home, I would tell him, “Don’t listen to me; watch our customers.”

Understanding customers will also help us uncover hidden customers. The Wii from Nintendo Co Ltd of Japan is an excellent example. They didn’t develop any unique technology; they just realized that there was potential demand out there for something different from conventional games, and thought about how to satisfy different demands from different age groups.”

Read article: part 1 | part 2 | part 3

(via Pachube)