This week has brought many interesting product announcements that contain lessons for product developers, managers, and innovators. Below are a few highlights.
GE and Local Motors. CNET reports that GE is teaming up with Local Motors, a micro manufacturer better known for making – you guessed it – cars. The two companies have created an open-source (meaning anyone can see, use, or change the code) design platform called FirstBuild. Because Local Motors focuses on crowdsourced design, the FirstBuild focus will be on small batch micro-manufacturing to drive product development in large appliances. Innovation Lesson…the right partnership not only brings new capabilities, it brings new ways of thinking that spur innovation.
KFC China. KFC is launching 15 new menu items on its menus in China, including dishes not seen in the US, such as rice dishes. Digital features in development include “a new mobile app, E-menu and prepay take-out option.” Innovation Lesson…know what you customer wants and what provides them value.
New York Times and paywall applications. Chances are you’ve seen a paywall before on a news site. This prevents the user from accessing the full content of an article unless she is a subscriber. The Times is offering two plans at opposite ends of the price and feature spectrum: one gives access to all articles and additional behind the scenes content, and the other, low end will offer a selection of articles from the Times and other sources. Innovation Lesson…leverage the existing product platform to create new valuable products.
Toothpaste tubes. We all hate wasting that last bit of toothpaste you can’t seem to get out of the tube. This accordion-style folding toothpaste tube is a creative solution to the problem. The design is based on principles of origami, which “has been used by designers and engineers to improve the way…technologies like airbags and space telescopes operate.” There’s an extra bit of creativity to the origami-based innovations that we appreciate. Innovation Lesson…avoid assumptions about “how things are” and look for new ways to solve common issues for customers.