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Device Customisation

Tokyo: blinged iPod

Customised iPod Nano encrusted in rhinestones – photo taken during a night out with friends in Shibuya.

Extreme customisation of devices such as mobile phones, iPods and tamagotchi is taking off amongst women (and occasionally men) in their 20’s and early 30’s here in Tokyo. Mobile phone and nail shops are offering extreme customisation as an extension of their existing services, nail shops being a particularly good fit given the skill set required to carry out the procedure. 7,000 yen (56 Euro) will buy you a glittery off-the-shelf design, whilst 60,000 yen (430 Euro) will buy you front, back, top and bottom fully customised design of your choice. Downside of the process? Losing use of the device whilst it is being customised, and the customisation process can invalidate the warrantee.

For the customer: what drivers for customising? For the service provider: is it possible to scale up, to offer mass-customisation?

One of my recent side-projects was to document the extreme mobile phone and nail customisation process for two Japanese teenagers, from preparing their phones – removing existing print club stickers and other adornments, sketching desired designs, interactions with the crafts-woman, and then following the customisation process in the shop up until delivery.