Innovating By Re-Purposing What Already Exists

Product innovation is not always about inventing something completely new. Sometimes, all we need to do to innovate is build parallels. If a concept works well for an industry, it may also work well for another. There is always the possibility to re-purpose what already exists and is already successful in a market, then use the same principles in another similar market. Innovation is not always about working from a clean slate. If a principle has been proven, why not take advantage of another’s success to create our own?

Here is an example to illustrate my point.

Kobo is a new distribution platform for electronic books and they have designed their own eReader device. To create Kobo the product team applied concepts and learnings from the online digital music industry and from the Apple philosophy of simplicity in design to create their device. The electronic book industry is a new emerging industry where publishers and retailers must rethink their business models and adapt to new technologies and to customers’ demand for quick and easy access to content anytime, anywhere. The physical to online transformation of the music industry was a wonderful platform for Kobo to base their innovation upon. There are still challenges for them to overcome (e.g. digital rights management, negotiations with publishers) but the music industry did carve a path for them to follow and they took advantage of it.

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