Analyst Report: Sector Roadmap: hardware design innovation

Analysis

Hardware-centric innovation poses interesting challenges for a software-centric economy and a design community nurtured on core iconic products like the iPhone. Many believe in the idea that physical shape and interface are the disruptive elements of design. In the future design will take hold after the product launch.

This Sector RoadmapTM looks at the emerging infrastructure of product development and asks whether we have already passed the era of iconic design. It’s a little different than our Roadmaps that focus on a single product segment: In this analysis we examine key trends in design innovation that are shaping hardware in general, whether that is a cell phone, a toy, or a wearable medical device.

Of the common Disruption Vectors in this environment — the trends companies can drive or ride to revenue and market share gains — designing for devices is the most critical. Crowdfunding and the concept of radical adjacencies outside a company’s core product set are nearly as important. New materials, mass differentiation, and additive manufacturing are also movements that companies can harness.

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Source: Gigaom Research

Other key findings in this Sector Roadmap include:

  • The overarching driver of these trends is the device-ification of hardware products —how companies make products that embrace communications, software, and services, all informed by a variety of feedback loops.
  • Engineers have previously worked in closed groups, but they are opening up to more modular design and more design sharing. Software concepts similar to open-source and iterative development are emerging in hardware design.
  • The incumbents in the device economy won’t necessarily hold on to their leadership. Rather, companies as diverse as Nike, Intel, and Disney appear well-positioned to take advantage of these new trends in hardware design and innovation.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Flickr user kakissel

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Introduction
  3. The new hardware environment
  4. Disruption Vectors and company analysis
    1. Designing for devices
    2. New materials
    3. Radical adjacency
    4. Crowdfunding
    5. Mass differentiation
    6. Additive manufacturing
  5. Conclusions and outlook
  6. Appendix A: extended vendor analysis
  7. About Haydn Shaughnessy
  8. About Gigaom Research

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