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Lego learns from the free market

This is a page from the original version of Pagan Vigil. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at

The toy manufacturer was caught by surprise at user's ingenuity

Lego has released design software to allow users to order custom sets. But users found a way to make it more efficient and cheaper. Lego's reaction? Cheers!

The adult community found out within a few days (of the Lego Factory launch) how these bags were mixed together," said Ronny Scherer, a senior producer in Lego's interactive experiences group. "It was a puzzle to us. They took us completely by surprise. We think it's great."

Scherer explained that Lego has to walk a fine line when it comes to allowing access to its systems but that the company recognized the value of letting users adapt the tools to their needs.

"We really encourage and embrace" some modifications of our software, he said. "We have a huge adult community, so if we can make our software in a way that will allow our fans to adapt it to their needs," we'll support that.

Meanwhile, though Lego's policy has been to get behind the software modifications done by the adult community, the company oddly hasn't communicated that position explicitly to the users, Malec and others said. But they are fairly sure they haven't upset the powers that be at the company.

I'd say the company knows what side their bread is buttered on. And rather than hiding corporate secrets, they've let users have their own way. That translates into good will towards the company and more profits.

Pretty smart, letting people choose what they want.

Posted: Thu - September 15, 2005 at 06:00 AM

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