Satisfying Heterogeneous User Needs via Innovation Toolkits: The Case of Apache Security Software

32 Pages Posted: 31 May 2002  

Nikolaus Franke

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Eric A. von Hippel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: January 2002

Abstract

User needs for a given product type can be quite heterogeneous. Segmenting the market and providing solutions for average user needs in each segment is a partial answer that will typically leave many dissatisfied - some seriously so. We hypothesize that providing users with "toolkits for user innovation" to enable them to more easily design customized products for themselves will increase user satisfaction under these conditions. We test this hypothesis via an empirical study of Apache security software - "open source" software that is designed to be modifiable by skilled users. We find that heterogeneity of need is high, and that many Apache users are dissatisfied with standard security functionality on offer. We also find that users creating their own software modifications are significantly more satisfied than are non-innovating users. We conclude by suggesting that the "toolkits for user innovation" approach to enhancing user satisfaction might be generally applicable to markets characterized by heterogeneous user needs.

Keywords: Open Source, Apache Security Software, Innovation, Innovation Toolkits

Suggested Citation

Franke, Nikolaus and von Hippel, Eric A., Satisfying Heterogeneous User Needs via Innovation Toolkits: The Case of Apache Security Software (January 2002). MIT Sloan School Working Paper No. 4341-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=299419 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.299419

Nikolaus Franke

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria
011-43-1-31336-0 (Phone)

Eric Von Hippel (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E62-455
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-7155 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

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