Designed By You


A bottle opener might not seem like the world’s greatest invention to anyone but thirsty frat boys, but could the one designed by Mophie–or, should I say, by its customers–be the start of a new trend in product invention?
Back in January, we wrote about Slim Devices, whose Squeezebox media player was designed by fans of the company, now owned by Logitech. But the stakes are higher for Mophie: It’s only two years old, and it’s competing in the crowded field of iPod accessories. It seems like everybody and their brother is trying to cash in on this market.
So, in an attempt to stand out, Mophie, trying a new twist on product development, invited MacWorld attendees to dream up their own gizmos, scribble them down on a piece of paper, which were then voted on by others at MacWorld and online, and the top designs were further refined by a similar process. One of the top vote-getters, now being sold as the Bevy, was designed by a 17-year-old skateboarder from Santa Cruz. A combination keychain, bottle opener, and storage device for the iPod Shuffle, I doubt it’s going to win any industrial design awards, but what do you think about this method of designing products? Is open-source the best way to go for consumer electronics, a la Slim Devices, or do you think a closed, secretive process akin to Apple’s iPhone (and iPod) is better? What other products have you seen that were created, open-source style, and do you think the process worked, or was it a case of too many cooks in the kitchen?