The power of industrial design – consumer technology case study


Conference: World Meter Design Congress
Location: San Jose, CA, USA
Presenter: Fred Bould
Abstract: Presented by Fred Bould at World Meter Design Congress

In an effort to quickly deliver new technologies to the consumer marketplace, companies often overlook opportunities to successfully their position their products in the minds of consumers. When the key decision makers are technologists, they are prone to convincing themselves that an impressive technical specification and engineering competence will be enough to influence a purchase. They rely on the “ours has more features, is faster, stronger, smaller, lighter, etc.” approach. In a category where a product is judged solely on a quantitative basis, this approach will probably work. In a consumer market, where the technical advantages can be somewhat blurred, a well considered Industrial Design may be helpful in bringing focus to the purchasing process.

Slim Devices was a small start-up company competing in the fast-growing digital music technology marketplace. Their main product, the Squeezebox network music player, had won numerous awards for technical excellence and had enthusiasts the world over. The only problem was that they weren’t selling enough of them to be profitable and reward their investors. After a rigorous program of Industrial Design, the Squeezebox was re-launched and Slim Device’s fortunes took a dramatic turn for the better. 

This presentation tells the story of how Industrial Design helped Slim Devices transform the aesthetically challenged Squeezebox from an obscure gadget for enthusiasts into a sophisticated piece of consumer audio gear that attracted a flood of new customers, important investors and improved employee morale. The Squeezebox Industrial Design process will be examined in detail. Everything from concept development to material selection will be discussed.