The last four weeks have contained much dinner time discussion about my step-son ditching the Xbox 360 (all of six weeks old, which he bought with money that he earned) to buy the new, cool PlayStation3. You may be asking what does this have to do with product design management. Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are competing over the console space. A game console is a thinly-disguised computer that hooks up to your TV to play games. When I was growing up the console space was brand new and was dominated by Atari. Later generations of game consoles boiled down to a console war between Nintendo and Sega. Sega lost. The latest consoles are the Sony Playstation3 (Sony), Xbox 360 (Microsoft), and the Wii (Nintendo).
The Sony Playstation3 has cutting-edge graphics and physics powered by the IBM cell processor. The XBox 360 is a year old now and doesnt quite have the graphics horsepower that the Playstation has. However, it does have a very successful on-line component called Xbox Live. The Sony costs from $500-600. The Xbox costs from $400-500. The Wii costs from $200-300 and doesnt have the graphics (or physics) horsepower of either of its competitors.
The Wii does have a very innovative controller that was designed to make game play easier. Both the Playstation3 and the XBox controllers are button farms. They can be difficult to use. The other Wii advantage is its emphasis on ease-of-play. The system was designed to make game play easy. Making it easier makes it more attractive to a wider audience, and not just hard-core gamers. Nintendos plan is to design a better experience for a broader audience.
My step-son (age 16) test played the Wii last night. When he got home, he was raving about how great the Wii was. When I asked how it could be that great he said; “I like the way it played”. This goes back to exactly what Shimon (www.Touch360.com) has been saying about designing for experience: http://www.montie.com/PDMA/2006_sept_event.
The Wii, it doesnt have the sheer computing power of the PlayStation 3, but it does have a well-designed experience. We, as product designers and managers, should strive for similar forms of design excellence. It isnt always about additional features and more performance. Elegance can be difficult to achieve, but the result is usually worth the effort especially if you are the end user.
As always, comments and suggestions are welcome.
President – Montie Design (ww.montie.com)
President – Carolinas PDMA (www.pdma.org/carolinas)
After a short networking session, we listened to a short keynote talk from Charles Lord (Triangle Advanced Design and Automation — http://www.tadatraining.com) about the subject of integrating consultants into your design process. The presentation, in power point format, is available at All_I_need_is.ppt.
The roundtable discussion include eight consultants and a regional economist (Tom Vass). The discussion was titled “Integrating Consultants into A Well-Run Design Process”. To my surprise, and contray to the efforts of the moderator [me], the discussion kept straying onto the topic of how can consultants work with inventors and early-stage startups.
The result of this discussion was Tom Vasss October 26th blog posting on the Design blogs at blog.Montie.com. Several of the attendees and consultants made suggestions of resources for these types of situations. Bill Sullivan (Carolinas PDMA Chapter member) highlighted the following resources:
From UNC there is an organization that supports Entrepreneurship, but it doesnt seem to have an incubator. Interestingly, its sponsored in part by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who is a big supporter of the University of Illinois program and the IBC. I was a Kauffman fellow when I was at U of I. Also, as mentioned on Thursday, UNC has the STAR program for student consulting.
Duke has an organization that supports Entrepreneurship, but like UNC it doesnt look like they have an incubator. They do have a student consulting organization that specifically mentions its commitment to pro bono consulting to local businesses that dont have the resources to get paid consulting.
Another organization that is focused on developing entrepreneurship nationwide is the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation out of Kansas City. Their website is full of useful information on all aspects of business operations and development.
One of the things we discussed last night was having an “opportunity fair” type of event on an annual basis. It looks like CED is putting on just such an event in Wilmington in December, with registration discounts prior to 11/3:
Here are some useful CED (Council for Entrepreneurial Development) links that describe how CED can help and the programs they offer. One item that attracted my attention based on last nights discussion is their Entrepreneurs Only Workshop series, which are lunch-time meetings that give current and budding entrepreneurs useful knowledge on the whole start-up process. Ive also included the Business Stages page since that breaks out their programs by their applicability to a particular phase in the business life cycle.
Every State I know of has an organization charged with the responsibility of inducing large companies to locate operations in their State. Those organizations normally are called “Industrial Development Authorities,” or “Indl Devt. Agencies,” but in the case of the Carolinas, they call themselves something different (so please extend my apologies to Tom Brown for the bum info. I gave him during your meeting). Each of these agencies has as their primary mission the attraction of new industry, so as to increase employment, and taxes paid, in the State; but as their secondary priority they are, to a lesser extent, interested in supporting the growth and prosperity of small companies already located in the State … for the same 2 reasons.
South Carolina Department of Commerce, directed by Chuck Bundy 803/737-0400.
They have done a terrific job over the years, especially in attracting large employers to locate in the Greenville/Spartanburg area.
Charlotte Regional Partnership
Director: Kenny McDonald 704/347-8942
City of Charlotte, NC cooperates with The SC Dept. of Commerce, and York County SC Economic Development Department, right across the State boundary line. The latter is managed by Mark Ferris (803/802-4300) with the City of Charlotte, NC Small Business Development Program
This is an organization sponsored by the North Carolina Department. of Commerce, responsible for supporting small businesses in the 10 NC counties around Charlotte. 704/336-2473.
North Carolina Department of Commerce, Raleigh, NC
The Business & Industry Division is run by Gene Byrd 919/733-4151
Tony McCullough (GRT Electronics — www.grtelectronics.com) added:
NC Small Business and Technology Development Center
Thanks to the folks that contributed to the info above and to making the meeting a success! Working with early-stage startups, and individual inventors, remains a challenge for design firms and consultants. The triangle area benefits economically from these entities, some of which grow into much bigger entities. Supporting the development of new businessess should be a priority that we all share, especially since we all benefit from their success.