Customization Satisfies Expression
Mind Yo Business
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 23:01
I recently purchased a new case for my iPhone that takes the form of a Lego block. The case is suited up with detachable pieces and has caught the attention of many. Besides the case’s ability to distract its user during a boring class—rearranging the Lego pieces is quite entertaining—it also speaks to the consumer’s desire for customization. I usually scan a few auctions on Ebay.com and eventually bid on a $3 case, as opposed to purchasing a $40 case in the AT&T store. My most recent purchase, however, was not purchased for a cheap price on the Internet, but in an actual store. Its unique qualities captured my attention and my wallet.
The concept of mass customization has been a prominent feature of hundreds of manufacturers for about two decades. Mass customization makes it possible to significantly lower production and inventory costs by eliminating the potential for overproduction and underproduction, all while increasing customer satisfaction. For instance, most consumers purchase computers over the Internet, individually selecting almost every feature, ranging from RAM data storage to the color of the desktop’s outer shell. Consumers almost always respond positively to the option of personal customization, partly because they feel like they are somehow contributing to the production process.
Whenever I observe any form of self-expression, especially on a campus like Boston College, I am immediately intrigued regardless of whether I approve or disapprove of the person’s decision. Nowadays, consumers have focused their craving for personal customization onto their smartphones as they purchase wallpapers, ringtones, casings, and even designed chargers. I am amazed by our innate desire to customize products to officially make them our own. Online stores like Iwowcase.com play to the modern consumer’s interest, selling cases that serve as bottle openers and ones covered with the Union Jack emblem. The major risk that such retail firms possess is miscalculating the interests of the public and creating products that do not sell.
Nokia has recently taken the idea of customization to a whole new level by allowing its users to alter elements of their phones’ hardware according to their individual needs. Last Friday, the firm launched its “3D-printing Development Kit” (3DK) that can be attached to the back of the Lumia 820 cellular phone. As reported by Fortune.com, community and developer marketing manager John Kneeland stated that the “Lumia 820 has a removable shell that users can replace with Nokia-made shells in different colors, special ruggedized shells with extra shock and dust protection, and shells that add wireless charging capabilities found in the high-end Lumia 920 to the mid-range 820.”
Although Nokia is now a standout among its competitors, copycats will most likely arise within the year. But for now, Kneeland is confident in the success of Nokia’s take on customization: “Those are fantastic cases, and a great option for the vast majority of Nokia’s Lumia 820 customers. But in addition to that, we are going to release 3D templates, case specs, recommended materials and best practices — everything someone versed in 3D printing needs to print their own custom Lumia 820 case,” Kneeland said. By inviting its customers to take part in the construction of their phones’ hardware, Nokia is likely to maintain its customer base and steadily attract new users.
I constantly wonder if smartphones are slowly replacing boredom. Just by taking a look at the people around you at any time of the day, you are bound to see a large number of bright mobile devices fixed upright in the palms of users. And as firms are becoming more cognizant of the innate desire for personalization, we will most likely develop further attachment to our phones. Personally, I have already eliminated the boredom in my life as I keep one hand on the keyboard and one on the removable Lego piece of my customizable case.