Product: Lego Mindstorms
People behind it:
Name:Soren Lund and Lego Mindstorms enthusiasts worldwide
Soren Lund, senior marketing director for Lego Mindstorms, says that when the original Mindstorms was launched in 1998, fans hacked the programming language used to control the robots and started creating their own, new instructions. When Lego relaunched Mindstorms, it went to its online hacker fan base to recruit a group of super fans to advise on new product development. Today, fans drive much of the Mindstorms development and marketing programme and third-party manufacturers make add-ons for the NXT system.
When the original Mindstorms was launched in 1998, fans hacked the programming language used to control the robots and started creating their own, new instructions. Lego’s first reaction was to call its lawyers, but then the company decided to encourage hackers. So when Lego eventually relaunched Mindstorms, it went to its online hacker fan base to recruit a group of super-fans to advise on new product development.
Mindstorms NXT was launched in 2006, and has become a cult classic. Because Lego took the bold decision to involve the fan base in the initial product development and also in an ongoing brand experience programme, heavily oriented around the internet, the system has become much more than a toy. It is now extensively used by educators to teach school children simple programming skills and technology and design related topics.
How it fits
Lego Mindstorms NXT is an example of how a 50 year-old company has transformed itself through harnessing new media. Web 2.0 has allowed Lego to create Brand 2.0 – the Mindstorms NXT brand is now managed by the fans, with Lego taking more of a watching role than a controlling one. Add to that Lego’s willingness to embrace open-source development and youhave a toy for the 21st century.