Tear it Down and Put it Back Together Again?
Teardown.com is a special kind of business consultancy. They take apart gadgets, work out how they work, a component count, a complete list of materials, cost out how much they cost to make and critique the product design. A sort of cut-price reverse engineering. You can buy their reports singlely or subscribe to their service. A quick warning, its not cheap to buy gadgets take them apart, have the time to research costs and the know-how to understand what you are seeing.
One of the most interesting things they have done is looked at mobile phones from throughout the world. The results have been very interesting.
The latest 3 G phones on sale in Europe are more complex than those sold in Japan. They have double the amount of parts in them, they cost more to make and are still underperforming handsets that work on existing mobile phone networks. Full details of this research can be found here (warning: a cubicle full of techy jargon a-hoy).
NEC, an experienced 3G phone manufacturer came in for particular criticism. Their phone had four times as many components as an equivalent present day phone and twice as many as the equivalent Nokia 3G phone. A case of Japanese not-knowing-how? As a three customer it is not particularly satifying to know that my lemon of an NEC e606 mobile phone is heavier and more sophisticated than it needs to be! Still my contract runs out on August 28 and I already started counting the days.