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Designing Mice...That Are Nice

Boot Camp feature for Thursday, September 19, 2002

An 85 year old office products company... wants to be hip. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Illinois based Fellowes... started out as a storage box company all of those years ago... today its focus is on digital. It makes a line of accessories for PDAs and PCs... .including what it calls the Ergo Tech Mouse. Fellowes' Fred D'Angelo...

"The exciting thing about the input line, when we decided to design the input line was we did the ... sort of the un-focus group, the anti-focus group. With a focus group, you bring in your newest product, some of your competitor's maybe and some prototypes maybe... where you think the direction ought to go and you ask all the consumers... which do you like the best. You hope that they pick yours. We did none of that. We brought in no products at all. What we brought in was, all things to make products and things to design products. We brought in everything from Play-Doh and putty to different textures, different colors... different things... and said to the consumers... how do you work?"

The result... new corded and cordless mice designed to better fit the hand with buttons that are more comfortably placed. The prices range from twenty to fifty dollars. D'Angelo says more unique designs are on the way...

"We're very proud of the design. What went into developing these mice. We sort of built the demand before we built the mouse. We let the consumers design products for consumers."

Fellowes faces plenty of competition from long time mouse makers Logitech and Microsoft... but it hopes aggressive pricing and those unique designs... .will click with buyers. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.