Thursday, February 02, 2006

CGS: Consumer Generated Stuff

There's news today that Sony is going to stop production of the AIBO. The AIBO was a robot dog that Sony began marketing about 6 years ago (Wikipedia article here). The thing was pretty pricey and definitely a niche product. Sony is in the midst of a serious re-trenching, so its not surprising that they would decide to pull back on some of these fringe-y products, as cool as they may be.

What struck me, though, as I was reading the article was the nature of the disappointment of AIBO, excuse me: "masters". In the Chronicle article I read, there were people expressing a degree of sadness that their AIBO was given only seven years to live (Sony promises to service AIBOs for the next seven years). Clearly, this is a degree of ownership that transcends simple use. In fact, many of these people had built their own extensions to their AIBO, giving

Reading it, I was reminded of the Wired Story I read the other day, about Lego Mindstorms. This robot kit (hmm...Robot theme?) has a community of users who have built their own extensions, creating amazing new uses for the simple set of tools first provided by Lego.

So: here we have it. The first two examples of Consumer Generated Stuff (as opposed to Consumer Generated Media). I'm working on a definition, but it is clearly time that we recognize that consumers not only have the ability to create messages about brands, they can actually create extensions, modifications and re-creations of brands, using the products themselves.

The difference, of course, is the ability to share these new projects. This may be simply in the form of instructions or potentially as software modules that can be downloaded. The idea, though, is a part of a new, re-configurable, fluid approach not only to brands, but also to the products themselves.
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