August 15, 2004

Kiwi bed innovations

Beds which are more supportive on one side for a heavier partner have been around for some time.

But in recent years Sleepyhead has poured millions of dollars into making beds which can be configured to more exact individual needs. They sell for more than $10,000 each and are proving popular.

In Sleepyhead catches Oz napping.

This describes a market need for custom mattresses which could form the platform for self-adjusting beds, with additional information processing. Right now I think adjustable beds are barely more than the kind of informercial-style taco-shaped bed things that look like they're out of a nursing home, but maybe there's a larger market than that.

Posted by mikek at August 15, 2004 03:40 PM | TrackBack

I'm struck by the sleep-number thing (not just by the horrific/fake/oh-so-concerned Lindsay Wagner corpse) as an interesting way to try to own the discussion about adjustment. What number are YOU - as if there's something very personal and part of your identity that is going into adjustment.

They are implying some greater form of personalization - such as the self-adjusting you describe - while I gather not doing any more than Craftmatic has been doing forever.

Of course, I once had the Craftmatic guy come to my house when I was very young and thought it'd be a great gag. I as oh-so-strange back then, however.

Posted by: Steve Portigal at August 15, 2004 08:26 PM

Yeah, I suspect they're doing little more than Craftmatic in terms of actual "personalization." I'm interested in it because it strikes me as yet another instance of mass-customization, which is the meme that--I believe--will lead to smarter products. Right now mass customization is expensive, either for the customer (as in bejeweled cell phones) or for the company (as Levis' failed custom-tailored jeans of 1998 show). But it's getting cheaper and people are--maybe--getting more used to it. Eventually the economics of providing a custom experience will tip against making mass one-offs, but investing the time/energy into making products that customize "on the fly."

Posted by: Mike at August 15, 2004 10:26 PM

In the BusinessWeek piece about frog being acquired by Flextronics there is some stuff about that...

This is possible because factories have far more flexibility than most outfits are able to exploit, says Esslinger. Typically, original design manufacturers try to bring out as few products as possible to sell to the widest audience possible. Then armies of planes and trucks fill stores and distributor shelves around the world with inventory. The result, all too often, is reams of similar products that carry very low profit-margins, once the price wars have taken their toll.

Instead, Esslinger wants to develop an infrastructure of components -- say, a few dozen keyboards, enclosures, and other parts -- that are designed to be easily mixed-and-matched on the factory floor at little added cost. Manufacturers could then charge a premium for the more customized product and bring more profit to the bottom line.

"Today, it may only be cost-effective to make 10,000 units of a product. But that will go to 2000, and then to hundreds, and who knows, maybe then to 10," says Esslinger. "That's the challenge. It's not really about beauty or style. It's about uniqueness."

Posted by: Steve Portigal at August 16, 2004 08:53 AM

poker me up

Posted by: poker me up at January 2, 2005 02:31 AM
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