Impossible to copy our products cheaply
The structure of a chair consists of a backrest, seat, arm rests, and legs, just simple and easy to copy. As it’s so simple, every time launching a new product, we are concerned if there are any other similar products. I’ve sometimes seen some copies of our chairs at furniture exhibitions. Were we mad? Not really. Of course, we’re not happy at all with such copies but believe it’s almost impossible to copy our products with the same quality in the same price range. In fact, the copies I’ve seen so far were cheaper, and their quality was worth the cheap price.
Difference between innovation and imitation
There are pros and cons on the subject of imitation. It seems difficult to simply condemn that imitation is bad. Even a genius scientist, Einstein said “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” Steve Jobs ordered Frog Design to imitate Sony, while blowing up about Windows and Android. In the first place, we can’t say all of our ideas are completely original because our thought is limited by the language developed by our ancestors. Although I think it’s still difficult to clearly define it, it sounds fine to fuse existing things (ideas) together to make a new thing (idea). This is said to be the basic way of innovation, totally different from imitation.
I have no real answer for this issue like this, but let me go back to the story of copies of our furniture, I don’t think that’s worth a try because it will require not-small expenses anyway to try to re-produce our products to the details. This may be not only because our furniture is technically difficult to produce but because of the characteristics of wooden furniture. It’s not suitable for mass-production. If there are copies of our products with the same quality in the lower price, I really want to ask the copycat for instructions how to realize it.
He is travelling around the world. His passion is to explain Japan to the world, from the unique viewpoint accumulated through his career: overseas posting, MBA holder, former official of the Ministry of Finance.