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I Have An Idea For A New Product, But Now What? - Articles Surfing

Do you have an idea for an electronic product, the next must-have gadget, music or video system, time saver, or the greatest problem-solving device that was ever invented? Before you begin designing the product, there are a number of tasks that you must complete and issues that you must resolve before you have an actual product design that can be produced, marketed, and sold. This article will provide you with some guidelines to assist you in getting your idea turned into a successful design. Other issues, such as whether or not to apply for a patent for your product idea and in detail how a particular product should be advertised or marketed will not be addressed in this article.

Many great product ideas were turned into fully functional electronic devices but never made their way successfully to the marketplace because the product was not easy to use, the target market or niche market where the product could be sold successfully was not accurately identified or targeted, the product advertising was not successful, an unattractive or non-identifiable name was applied to the product, the product pricing was too expensive, the product was provided in unattractive packaging, the product as manufactured was unreliable, or the wrong sales distribution model was chosen. There are a lot of minefields to dance in before you have a successful product that meets or exceeds your sales expectations.

Initially you must identify the following to determine if your product idea is valid:

- who would buy this new product?

- how much would they be willing to pay for it ?

- can you produce the product and make the required profit margins at the anticipated sales price?

- how do you get the product in front of the customers so that they can buy the product?

- can you provide warranty and service functions for the product?

- will your design require product compliance testing for any applicable FCC or UL regulations?

- will the product have to meet RoHS requirements (such as lead-free for components and soldering) for overseas (European Union, China, Japan, Korea, etc.) and domestic (California) markets?

- would this product infringe on any existing patents?

To answer the above questions, you should document your product idea in the form of a product specification document that describes which systems that the product could interface with. It should also identify all of the various functions the product should perform, describe how the product should be packaged esthetically and physically for size and shape, and define how the device will be powered. The product specification document should also describe how the user would interface with the product, such as by an equipped keypad, pushbuttons, a rotary dial switch, touchscreen, by an external link to a personal computer, PDA, or one of the newer sophisticated cell phones. You must also consider how the unit will display information to the user with options including an LCD character display, light emitting diodes or LEDs either singly or in an array, a graphics capable display in monochrome or color, or by audible tones.

Once the initial product specification document is completed, a marketing study should be initiated that identifies the optimum target market or market niche, and the product's preferable name choices, including a primary name choice and some alternate name choices. The marketing study should provide options for selling the product both directly and through sales distribution, including who would actually stock, sell, and support the product in each scenario. The marketing study should also include the product's anticipated pricing range such as the anticipated MSRP or manufacturers suggested retail price at the upper end and the discounted pricing where you would really be able to sell large quantities of the product at different volume levels and different margin levels at the lower end.

When the marketing study is completed, it should be reviewed against the original product specification document and changes made as required to either or both documents to fully identify the product requirements. Once this review is completed, the electronics and mechanical packaging design processes can begin, based on the parameters established by the review of the product specification document and the results of the marketing study. In order to optimize the design, the product designers must know what functions the product should perform, what the product should look like, and how much the product should cost to be manufactured and packaged ready for sale. Product logo designs and product labeling requirements should also be identified as they can have an impact on the physical package designs and the overall appearance of the product.

With this information available, you are now prepared to either design the product yourself; utilize other internal resources to design the product, or to contract the design activities with an outside source. You will need access to the following functional skill sets to have your idea turned into a working product:

- electronics hardware designer(s) with the analog and/or digital design expertise required for your design idea application

- printed circuit board layout designer with an applicable pcb CAD package

- a software designer with the required programming expertise and software tools

- a mechanical packaging specialist

- an electronics assembly resource to populate the printed circuit boards, to solder the components to the boards, and to assemble the finished prototype product

Even if all of these resources are available within your own company, they may not be available to you in the timeframe your product introduction requires due to scheduling conflicts with other internal projects. This is the point in the project where it can make economic and scheduling sense to make use of the resources from outside entities. Sometimes all of these resources can be outsourced from an electronics manufacturing service provider or EMS, or you may find an engineering resource to provide the initial design services and an EMS to assemble the product. Be sure to have an appropriate Non-Disclosure Agreement in place with any and all parties that are involved in this process to protect your intellectual property.

Submitted by:

Jim Usery

Jim Usery is the Sales and Marketing Director at Innovative Circuits Inc. (311A S Parkway St; Corinth, MS 38834). He can be reached by the following: office 662-287-2007: toll free: 866-887-7381; fax: 662-665-9275; email: jusery@icimfg.com. Visit our website at http://www.icimfg.com for information about Innovative Circuits Inc. and the services that we provide. You can also view other free articles in our Tech Library and sign up for our free Ezine, PCB Information.



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