Philip Bourgeois, Founder of StudioRed, discusses his 30+ years of experience in product design – beginning with a lesson he learned in the early days of computer design in the 1980s. As Philip tells it, early prototypes can lead to plenty of excitement in the boardroom and can also lead to some costly decisions.

Product Design Lessons: The Osborne Effect

In the early 1980s, I worked on the product design team at Osborne Computer. You may recognize this brand, but might be more familiar with the term “Osborne Effect.” Basically, it is an example of what not to do in launching a product or brand marketing.

The original Osborne computer took seven hours to build. As a result, the product design team was asked to develop a new version that could be assembled more quickly. I designed a new product called Vixen and was asked to show a sample prototype to Adam Osborne (company founder).

On a Friday afternoon, I presented the Vixen prototype to Adam and his team. It took me about four minutes to assemble the prototype. As you can imagine, the team was pretty excited about build time going from 420 minutes down to four minutes.

The problem is that Adam got too excited about the product design. On Monday, the company sent out a press release that said, “wait until you see what we have coming.”

After the release went out, everyone stopped buying in-line Osborne computers because they were waiting for Vixen to launch. In addition, we were about one year away from having Vixen ready for production. Furthermore, all we had shown them was a sample prototype.

Unfortunately, this led to the company’s downfall. In the end, I guess you can say that I was an influencer in what became known as the “Osborne Effect.”

Click here for Part 2

Click here for Part 3

About the speaker
Philip Bourgeois StudioRed, Founder Member

Philip Bourgeois is the Founder of StudioRed. Since its inception in 1983, Philip’s team has introduced more than 400 products developed through the “Rational Emotional Design” process (RED) - which combines logic and emotion into product design to connect with more customers. Considered one of Silicon Valley’s design pioneers, Philip is featured in several books including “From Patent to Profit” and “Make It New: A History of Silicon Valley Design.”

Provide your rating for this post
If you liked this post, please use the buttons to the left to share it with a friend or post it on social media. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Read more

The Five Elements of Product Design

StudioRed Founder Philip Bourgeois on the five elements for product design that are driven by what is most important in products today.

Product Design Begins In The Shop

The fundamentals of product design are learned hands-on; experiences that you only get in a workshop or on the floor of a manufacturing plant.

/ Register for Free

Don’t be left behind in your career. Join a growing community of over 500K Product professionals committed to building great products. Register for FREE today and get access to :

  • All eBooks
  • All Infographics
  • Product Award resources
  • Search for other members

Coming soon for members only: personalized content, engagement, and networking.