Steven Flowers and Georgina Voss
User innovation is a potent economic and social force; the process, however, can be challenging, complex, and involve multiple actors with diverse and possibly conflicting motivations. It is prevalent in the music software industry, a sector characterized by low-cost shareware and customers equipped with high levels of technical skills. Here we explore how one firm in this sector—Sibelius—extracts value from their users by offering partially open product architecture to explore; toolkits which enable the development of user-designed ‘plug in’ apps; and forums for knowledge sharing. The case illustrates the importance of a multifaceted approach in creating sustainable community engagement, as a means of integrating the community into wider R&D processes of the firm. Whilst toolkits provide means to transfer manufacturing capability to users, they are ultimately secondary to the desire of the developer community to create the highly variant and complex ‘mods’ that meet their very specific needs.