I recently was introduced to some of the underlying innovations and technologies driving advances in the bowling industry. Ebonite based in a small town in KY here in the US is continuing to apply R&D in new ways. Encouraging, though they don't label it as such, they are also leaders in 'open innovation' through their history and experience in bringing emerging technologies from other industries and university settings into their category. I can't share the specifics of some of their new ideas, but here's a link to a recent television show highlighting some of their developments.
Whenever I hear a client or industry 'expert' labeling a product as 'commoditized' I wince. That's what they used to say about the home vacuum category until Richard Dyson came along and has launched a continuous series of innovations in that very mature and competitive market.
I believe that any business and any product can be innovated. I wrote some time back about Dan Touhey and Spalding. Through a series of disruptive ideas, several of which were developed via 'open innovation' partnerships, Spalding grew their business by 33% in one year!
And in particular, I'm intrigued by the nuances (from basketball and bowling, to swim suits) of how technology is helping to drive performance and break records in sports equipment. Like I said, you can reinvent ANY category.