Thoughts on ownership and access

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Access model, Business Model Archetypes, Product Attachment and Trust

Ken Webster

Yesterday, Ken Webster from the Ellen MacArthur foundation gave an interesting talk about Circular Economy. He presented the bigger picture, the macroscopic view, of why we need to change the current economic system. According to him, a new circular economy is not just a way out of environmental disaster, but also a way for a more sustainable and just social development. I found his thoughts very interesting and it clearly showed that we are still far from reaching the goal.

In the end he commented on how to convince people to rent or lease instead of buying stuff. He said:

People want to own their own toys, but tools is something completely different. I don’t care if I own my own mobilephone or dishwasher…

The last couples of weeks I have been thinking a lot about in which situation users would want to buy access to speakers instead of buying them. And the problem I have been facing is exactly that a wireless speaker can be regarded as toy. This shows how the Attachment and Trust strategy is only suited for the classic long-life model and can act against an Access model. If people are to attached to a product they want to own it.

So to make an access model attractive I should look at a situation where a speaker act more like a tool and the “job to get done” is more important than the product itself. Some could argue that the music will always be the reason to buy a speaker. But I would argue that market differentiation have turned wireless speakers into lifestyle products. Product designers and marketeers do everything they can to create product attachment. It is interesting to ask if music is an utilitarian need or not? I think it clearly depend of the person you ask.

I think that Websters distinction between toys and tools is true for normal use. But the service element of an access model should not be forgotten. A great service can make it attractive to rent even toys…


3 design concepts

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Business Model Archetypes, Circular Design Strategies

At the session last week I came up with three different concepts:

1. A speaker for backpackers. The speaker should have added functionality such as smoke detector or alarm. The speaker would be designed to be durable. The reason why this is a good  circular design, is because it makes sense to rent out the product in this situation as the user only have these specific needs in a limited and clearly defined timespan.

2. A modular speaker for social outdoor occasions. The idea here is to make the ultimate modular solution. This would create new opportunities for social interactions and redefine what a wireless speaker is. A modular solution makes sense from a circular point of view, because it is easy to replace parts. The most obvious for this product would be to follow a classic long life model or a hybrid model.

3. A speaker for participants at music festivals. When people go to music festivals many people bring home made speaker systems to have music in their camps. For this use power and battery life time is essential. There is a potential for creating a product service system that would rent out speakers to festival guests. The solution could also be modular like the previous one, so each participant can get a custom made solution. The festival setting allows for many interesting new product interactions. It could be possible to put two speaker modules together to double the volume or connect your speaker with that of the neighbor camp so you can have a party together. The setting also invites to implement solar panels or to include a battery swap service in the service offering.

I have decided to go for the last solution as I see it as a situation where it makes sense to implement a product service system and that it offers some interesting opportunities for new user interaction and use.

Design for durability

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Product Durability

This whole idea of this project is to design products with a long lifespan. To do so, it seems obvious to “design for durability”, which is one of the six proposed design strategies. It is indeed obvious, but it is not necessarily easy. It is pointless to design one part to last 100 years, if another breaks after two months. The lifespan of the whole system should therefore be considered. Durability is very much a question of the quality of the chosen components, but it is also a question of manufacturing and assembly. As I wrote in an earlier blog post I experienced that there is a clear correlation between product price and sound quality. You don’t get much bass for €10. To sell a speaker at that price the cheapest solutions are used. This means an integrated PCB with the cheapest components, a small driver, super thin wires, etc. But it also mean that the design is quite simple and that there actually are relatively few elements that can fail. So cheap is not necessarily directly linked to short technical lifetime.

At the workshop last thursday I had the pleasure to get supervision by an industry expert, Ronald Salters, who have many years of experience from Phillips and Bose. He could tell me a lot about speaker design and give valuable insights in to how the industry works. He pointed out that it typically is the cone of the driver that fails. And he explained how a huge quality improvement can be obtained with just a few extra dollars spend on production. In the next couple of days I will make an overview of how such quality steps would look. Meanwhile I can share some of my other design ideas that will increase durability:


Ideas for design for durability

Durable metal housing, e.g. in cast aluminum

Limit number of components and buttons

Waterproof design

Sturdy design that can withstand drops

Inner shock protection system

Ideas for design for Attachment and trust

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Product Attachment and Trust

Design for Attachment and Trust is a design strategy that offers a wide range of different design solutions (as you can read about in this blog post) . A few weeks ago I made a list of different ideas for designs that would have an element of design for attachment and trust. I have know extended it a bit and would like to share it with you:


Attachment through narrative

Make the product of old products

Make of sustainable materials


Attachment through personalization and involvement

Customization through exchangeable and personal parts covers

Customization through 3D printed housing

The user assemble the product

The user put their own mark on the product in another way

Mass customized speakers (design your own unique speaker online)


Trust through added functionality

Make speaker with life saving function (e.g. smoke detector)

Make intelligent speaker that react to the surroundings

Speaker as intelligent helper that tell you e.g. if your other gadgets are about to be low on battery


Trust through quality and durability

Make speaker of premium components and solid wiring

Make super sturdy and water proof speaker


Attachment through appearance

Unusual choice of materials

Honest design

Make in materials that become more beautiful over time (e.g. leather or wood)


Attachment and trust through interaction

Emotional lightning

Feature that make the music follow your heartbeat

New and alternative forms of interaction, e.g. by gestures


Design for adaptability and upgradability

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Circular Design Strategies, Standardization & Compatibility

At first the design strategy adaptability and upgradability can seem similar to standardization and compatibility. But there is an important difference. Adaptability and upgradability is about anticipating the future and preparing your product for what might come.

I see that there are two main ways to do this

  • Enable future software upgrades (build in CPU, memory and internet-connectivity)
  • Modular design that allows for addition of new elements (e.g. bigger battery, solar cell, chip for the next generation wireless technology)