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Recent reviews show large failure rates in the commercialization of new product designs. Often, the reason of failure has been not a lack of technological capability of the firm, but a wrong understanding of customer preferences. Extending the concept of adaptable smart products, our concept of "embedded toolkits for user co-design" proposes to design products with build-in flexibility by embedding knowledge and rules about possible product differentiations into the product. This approach can be seen as a scalable attempt towards "open hardware", extending the open innovation paradigm beyond software towards tangible products. Users are enabled to modify a product directly according to their individual needs. We present a technology acceptance study (TAM) of such an embedded toolkit in an automobile. Surveying 163 users demonstrates the general feasibility and value drivers of embedded toolkits. Our paper contributes to the literature by discussing the contingency factors and the tactical and strategic implications of embedded open toolkits for user innovation.
Date of Conference: 5-8 Jan. 2010