Hankammer, Stephan; Jiang, Ruth; Kleer, Robin (2016)
Mass Customization (MC) has become a major trend in the consumer goods market in recent years. However, it is still unclear if MC goods have a positive impact on the environment due to the many influencing factors in comparison to mass produced goods. With Google’s “Project Ara”, a modular and customizable smartphone approach is very likely to reach market maturity and its economic, social and ecologic impacts are still unclear. Using a qualitative case study approach, we shed light on its potential economic success. Furthermore, we use the two theoretical concepts of Eco Innovation (EI) and Systemic Innovation (SI) to assess Google Ara’s potential to lead to changes in terms of ecologic and social concerns.
In our analysis, we show that Project Ara has the potential to outperform its competitors of modular smartphones. We work out that Google’s modular approach could lead to a longer useful life of smartphones – or at least for some components. Finally, we affirm Project Ara’s general potential for being an SI. Even though Project Ara will very likely not change the complete smartphone market and the behavior of the involved actors, there is a potential for influencing sociocultural behavior in the long tail of the smartphone market.
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