in Opinion

Why are you supposed to get rich from your product?

HP launches a 3D printer, not something that is really spectacular, it is just new hardware. However it will change some business models for companies that make products and charge for them. Companies such as Nike, Louis Vuitton, Tupperware and many others should rethink the way they are making money. Can they still charge for their products? Are they still in the position to have a big revenue stream? Why are they supposed to get rich from their product? Or as James Murpy stated about the music industry: “Why are bands supposed to get rich? Plumbers don’t get rich, why do bands have to get rich?”

When it is easy to make a copy of a product and copies are abundant, the original product becomes worthless (literally). This is the point Kevin Kelly makes in his post Better than free: when copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Change in business model

With HP launching a 3D printer it is just a matter of time till you can download your 3D models of the latest Nike shoe and can print your own matching pair. Of course, this edition of the printer prints plastic objects only. However in the very near future those printers can create output based on all kind of fabrics.

What will your business model be when your products all of the sudden become printable commodities without hardly any difference in quality with regard to the original?