The folks behind the blog have been covering the cheap netbook and tablet knockoffs and original products coming out of China for a while. And then they got thinking… what if you could tap the capabilities of these Chinese manufacturers to build products custom made to match the expectations of Western consumers? And that led to the creation of Shanzai Studios, a new site that hopes to use the power of the crowd to design killer concepts that can be turned into real products by some of these Chinese manufacturers.

Up first is Operation TBD, (Tablet bag Design). The idea is that users can submit their ideas for the perfect bag to tote around the upcoming iPad or another slate-style tablet. Other users can leave comments and suggestions and vote on their favorite designs.

Contributors will get discounts if they choose to purchase a finished design based on their ideas.

If this works out, maybe we’ll start seeing some of those crazy-cheap or just-plain-crazy devices that typically only show up in China make their way to the US in the future. Macbook Air-clone running Google Android, anyone?

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2 replies on “Shanzai Studios crowdsources development of a tablet bag (and other items)”

  1. Wired ran an article entitled Atoms are the new Bits or something reasonably similar, about DIY manufacturing and using Chinese manufacturers to build items because they’re working on becoming what is in effect scaleless manufacturers (where it costs only slightly more to make one of something than it does to make 1000).

    It’s an interesting read, and I think that this idea definitely has something behind it. For some of you that have been on the recieving end on some of my comments about smartbooks and tablets, one of the reasons for this is that in my computer class I’m doing a mock project about tablets, and in my business/marketing class I’m creating a fictitious company that’s based on the premes that the Tegra 2 platform will be strong enough to run a linux WoW client, and that we can import smartbooks from China at a low enough cost that we can compete in the existing netbook space at a profit, and market what I’m jokingly calling WoWbooks. What’s scary is that from everything I’m doing in class I’m rapidly learning that the idea isn’t insane at all. I’m tempted to get a Tegra 2 development board, test my theory, then file some trademarks and look for manufacturers. Hell even if Tegra 2 isn’t that powerful the next chip just might be…

    Anyway, just thought I’d throw in my two cents. If you’re interested there is also a huge DIY movement based on US companies doing similar things (the makerbot is one of the cooler things I’ve seen), it’ll be interesting to see if US based companies can compete price for price on small scale runs with Chinesee companies once you factor in the costs of shipping.

    Anyway, it’s not likely to have much impact at once, but we really may finally be entering a post industrial era in a literal sense, where people can design things in their home and bring them to market relatively few boundaries to entry.

    Time will tell.

    1. @mlabrow Actually was mentioned in that wired article!

      We’re starting off with a non-technical product (tablet bag) but one that definitely will have unique as yet unseen requirements as the iPad and tablets will be one of the first “always-on” computers people will carry with them.

      Also if the iPad drives/popularizes an entire category in the same way it has with smartphones I’m sure you’ll see plenty of cheap, reasonably decent pads/tablets from other brands that have been developed by the so called shanzai players of shenzhen.

      Good luck with your fictitious company… I think technically speaking WoWbooks are completely doable.

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