Evolutionary Perspective on System Generation Engineering by the Example of the iPhone

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Pfaff, Felix; Götz, Gregor Theodor; Rapp, Simon; Albers, Albert
Series: ICED
Institution: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 1715-1724
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/pds.2023.172


Industrial practice shows that products are developed in generations. Innovation success with complex technical systems can only be achieved economically by using existing solutions as references. These references come from predecessors, competitors, and even industry-external sources. The model of SGE – System Generation Engineering describes these relationships. The iPhone is often used as an example of an innovative product developed in generations. Multiple studies have examined the iPhone. However, none of these studies systematically considers the influence of the product context on references and variations. In this contribution, an evolutionary descriptive model based on the model of SGE is applied to 15 iPhone product generations. The central result is an overview of the variation shares over the generations and the relationships between context factors, reference-based variation activities, and innovation success and hypotheses for causalities. This is one of a series of case studies to investigate these causalities. The study showed how the iPhone remained successful in its context: not through a high new development share, but through strategically placed variations and the use of references from various sources.

Keywords: Innovation, Product modelling / models, Design methods, Design management

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