1. What are the unique challenges facing a new product development company?
(1) Quality and engineering design of the product. When Colin Angel founded iRobot Company, he embraces brilliant engineers in his team and was able to develop a wide range of high-technology products. The engineering design of Roomba is an important reason for its success in the market.
(2) Making it affordable to customer. Angel’s proposal for Hasbro was rejected because the cost of the toy robot was too high, about $3,000. It was a great design but just too expensive to be realistic. Angel’s later design hit market successfully with an affordable price $199.
(3) Easy for customer to use. iRobot's engineers designed Roomba with a large button labeled "clean.” They also provided choice of "S," "M," or "L," for small, medium, or large room size.
(4) Appropriate Brand image.
2. Evaluate iRobot's approach to the consumer market. Was it effective? Would you have done anything differently?
iRobot Company initially approaches to consumer market with well diversified products, from nuclear waste detectors to toy robots. By diversifying its products, iRobot reduced risks of failure. Once the iRobot found the products that would propel it into rapid growth, namely vacuum cleaning machine and military robot, the company turned their focus on those products.
Even though iRobot established successful products and competitive advantages in the market, the company is still constantly advancing its technology and developing new products. Given examples of Scooba(flooring washing robot), iRobot Create(Hobby robot) and Verro(pool cleaning robot).
I personally think iRobot’s strategy is effective. They focused on their core technology and made affordable high-tech products to customers. Also they successfully spread out the risks into diversification. If iRobot can keep their innovation process and stay with their core strategy to: 1, improve quality; 2, reduce cost; 3, be flexible with market, this company can stay ahead in the competition and be able to preserve its competitive advantages.