14 July 2010

Productivity for Prosumers

As the launch of the beautiful Droid X approaches, we get emails from corporate every day with little tidbits and facts about the device that we ("wireless solutions experts") can use to further promote it. 

Today we got an email "Droid X, Fact 8: Enterprise Ready" that went on to descibe the corporate features that make the device adventageous.  One of the heading was "Productivity for Prosumers."  I had never heard this term before, and assumed Verizon had made it up, as they are oft known to do.

My thought process was: Pro-sumer, as opposed to Con-sumer.  That's funny.  Pro is the opposite of con.  Clever.  A positive spin on our corporate customers.

Then I did a bit of Googling and found this is actually an established term, however my initial assumption of its origins were proved incorrect.
Accoring to World Wide Words, this term actually first appeared in 1980!  There seem to be two acceptable definitions of the term.

  1. It was coined in 1980 by the futurist Alvin Toffler — in his book The Third Wave — as a blend of producer and consumer. He used it to describe a possible future type of consumer who would become involved in the design and manufacture of products, so they could be made to individual specification. He argued that we would then no longer be a passive market upon which industry dumped consumer goods but a part of the creative process.
  2. In the alternate definition, the word is a blend of professional and consumer. Prosumers of this sort are famed for their enthusiasm for new products and their tolerance of flaws and, from the marketing point of view, have much in common with early adopters. This usage is common among those selling video equipment, digital cameras, and electronics.  Professional consumer.

I guess, then, that VZW was using the second definition, and I guessed that the first definition wasn't so common.  But then I came across the book Wikinomics by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams, and they use prosumer extensively, for example, page 125, where it discusses the social video game Second Life as being created by its customers. when customers are also the producers, you have the phenomenon: Prosumer.

Yes, indeed.

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