Mass customization in the Mobile Phone Industry and the four faces

Through this website people can customize their own iphone case. They use a interface most looking like the “dell” parameter-based interfase. Enabeling customers to upload their photo and making a case for their iphone out of it.

Interesting about this product is that for the mobile industry it’s almost retro. Everybody remembers nokia introducing a very simple form of customization for their customers by having replacable covers. The link* on the bottem of this post shows a picture of the mobile phone timeline of nokia. As you can see it was already in 1997 when they introduced the concept.

A Harvard business revieuw article published in the same year (1997) tells us about “The Four Faces of Mass Customization”.

Virtually all executives today recognize the need to provide outstanding service to customers. Focusing on the customer, however, is both an imperative and a potential curse. In their desire to become customer driven, many companies have resorted to inventing new programs and procedures to meet every customer’s request. But as customers and their needs grow increasingly diverse, such an approach has become a surefire way to add unnecessary cost and complexity to operations. Companies around the world have embraced mass customization in an attempt to avoid those pitfalls. Readily available information technology and flexible work processes permit them to customize goods or services for individual customers in high volumes at low cost. But many managers have discovered that mass customization itself can produce unnecessary cost and complexity. They are realizing that they did not examine thoroughly enough what kind of customization their customers would value before they plunged ahead. That is understandable. Until now, no framework has existed to help managers determine the type of customization they should pursue. James Gilmore and Joseph Pine provide managers with just such a framework. They have identified four distinct approaches to customization. When designing or redesigning a product, process, or business unit, managers should examine each approach for possible insights into how to serve their customers best. In some cases, a single approach will dominate the design. More often, however, managers will need a mix of some or all of the four approaches to serve their own particular set of customers.                  link to the full text of the article:

I hope you all enjoy this post.


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