The Little
Tool that
Could

Bosch

Every once in a while, a new product comes along that creates a paramount shift in consumer behavior. We’re not talking about the automobile, but a small power tool called the IXO. TEAMS has been a driving force in helping Bosch to create breakthrough power tools that create a difference in people’s lives. The story of the IXO is one about a little tool with big aspirations.

Like the creation of many other products, the IXO was born out of the similar principle: how can we break the shackles of human limitation and create something completely simplified? Power tools are often seen as heavy, bulky and complicated. We asked ourselves—is there a way to create a simpler power tool altogether? One that everyone can use and not just for complicated projects; but for simple ones, too?

Momentum Through Teamwork

TEAMS has shared a long and very involved relationship with Bosch. This tight-knit relationship created quick movement in carrying the above question into a solid business idea. The ‘what-ifs?’ quickly warped into ‘how to’s’—then finally into palpable plans.

Hans Peter Aglassinger, director of TEAMS, has been guiding Bosch on their design strategy for the long-haul of his career. “During the series of brainstorms surrounding the IXO, we looked at opening up an entirely new category of users; those with little or no experience in using power tools. We wanted to create a product that would change people’s opinion in how they viewed power tools,” said Aglassinger.

Semantics and Emotional Response

Creating the IXO had a lot to do with semantics and how a product communicates its meaning through its form. For example, a screw driver that looks like a screw driver is more likely to grab attention than a screw driver that looks more like a hand-mixer or remote control.  Keeping the IXO in the screw driver category meant that it would still keep its recognizable shape; but that it would be simplified enough to appeal to everyone.

A Helping Hand

TEAMS knows Bosch power tools better than anyone—just like the back of our hand. In fact, you could say that the hand was our inspiration for shaping the IXO into its smaller size. 

Our team of designers and visionaries partnered closely with Bosch’s research & development team to make sure that our hand-size model would still carry that same amount of effectiveness—while also creating a joy-of-use experience. After additional evolutions of design mock-ups and internal user testing the IXO was born.

As the first IXO reached the production stage, Bosch started to prepare its predictions for the onset of demand. Within months of the introduction, Bosch realized that they were in trouble, the kind of trouble most new product developers wish they had.  They could not keep IXOs on the shelf.

Hans-Peter Aglassinger, Managing Partner TEAMS

"We envisioned the IXO to be much like a hand itself; small and agile and easy to grab onto."

Getting the IXO Off the Ground

“As soon as the IXO came into stores, there was a mass hysteria; everyone wanted to buy it—including women and people who weren’t as likely to use power tools,” noted Aglassinger. “What surprised us as well was its notoriety for being used as a special gift for a friend or family member. Never before had a power tool been so gift-worthy.”

A large part of the IXO’s success factor was the stirring up of psychological cues that would generate an unconscious desire to buy it. One part simplification—one part pretty packaging. But this was only the surface of the IXO’s large appeal.

"Design can have a big impact on society, especially when that product does a great job of intuitively serving user’s needs. Capturing an entirely new market category of new users and bringing a new level of emotion to using power tools is the special kind of impact the IXO has created." Hans-Peter Aglassinger, TEAMS managing partner

Aglassinger reviewed the IXO’s bigger-than-life success. Sometimes the inspiration for great design can come from a simple observation—one that makes peoples’ lives easier. “We didn’t alter people’s behavior all too drastically,” said Aglassinger. “We just made it easier for them to do what they want to do. And in that process, we’ve sold more than 14 million today.”

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