Nike, once a model of corporate autocracy, has gotten in the open-source groove, opening itself up to collaboration with virtually everyone. In 2009, the company turned its coolest customers into designers, its sneakers into personal fitness consultants, and its intellectual property into free R&D for solving the world's problems.
At this storefront in Laguna Beach, California, SoCal wakeboarders, BMX-ers, and skaters can customize Chuck Taylor All Stars and Hurley board shorts with their favorite artwork. "Action sports is the fastest-growing segment of our business," says Jeanne Jackson, who runs Nike's direct-to-consumer business. "Today's young customer expects a deeper connection."
Women's Nike Training Club
An iPhone app lets women create their own virtual personal trainer that can be shared with friends.
Total90 Laser III Boot
Soccer players submit a unique user code that comes with the boot into Nike's Soccer+ Web site to receive an online coaching session from Italy's Juventus FC.
Sneakerheads and runners alike have reached Nike nirvana in Tokyo's new flagship store, which has NikeiD's largest customization studio in Asia and a Runner's Studio, where runners can have their strides analyzed.
Social entrepreneurs and manufacturers can now access the green technologies dreamed up in Nike's R&D lab—like its low-toxin rubber—with its new open-source Web site, cofounded with companies including Best Buy and Yahoo. "All of us are sitting on untapped assets, our patent libraries are gathering dust," says Hannah Jones, Nike's vice president of sustainable business and innovation. "Climate change is too big for any one company to tackle."