(Business 2.0) – Tumi Flow Collection
High-end luggage maker Tumi is hitting a new price point and targeting a younger demographic with its Flow collection of messenger bags and totes featuring retro fabrics, seasonal colors, and headphone ports. But Tumi is also using Flow to establish itself as a fashion-focused brand as its retail outlets spring up near designer apparel boutiques.
BOTTOM LINE: Tumi expects to sell about 70,000 Flow pieces this year, nearly three times the number initially forecast.
Like its insanely popular Internet search engine, Google's free Web e-mail uses uncomplicated antidesign to make information as easy as possible to find. By making the service available by invitation only, Google upped its desirability, and the 1-gigabyte storage capacity prompted competitors like Yahoo and Hotmail to increase their mailbox sizes to keep users from migrating.
BOTTOM LINE: According to research from Return Path, 54 percent of all Gmail users made the switch from Hotmail, while 33 percent had migrated from Yahoo, as of December 2004.
Belkin PureAV Line
When Monster Cable horned in on Belkin's computer-peripherals business, Belkin counterattacked in Monster's native high-end audio market with a line of products that takes its design cues from Belkin's iPod accessories. Though the Power Console PF60 and Power Conditioner PF40L--souped-up surge protectors that filter electricity for higher-quality audio--scored Belkin great placement in Best Buy, the packaging didn't communicate the products' purpose very well.
BOTTOM LINE: In the first four months, these two products recouped 77 percent of the line's development costs.
Oxo Good Grips Mandoline
Branching out from its popular line of handheld kitchen tools, Oxo created a $70 slicer that's an improvement over lower-end models but more affordable than intimidating top-of-the-line versions that cost upwards of $100. But while the product is one of Oxo's most expensive offerings, its plastic construction still feels a bit cheap.
BOTTOM LINE: Within its first five months on the market, the mandoline became the biggest Oxo earner in terms of revenue and one of the top 10 items in unit sales.
Sony PlayStation Portable
Though the PSP is poised to become the breakthrough hybrid handheld of 2005--with games, movies, music, and Wi-Fi--Sony was smart to position the device primarily as a gaming platform. But the allure of its sleek, intuitive design could be dampened by the fact that it plays only movies and games stored on two of Sony's proprietary formats, the Memory Stick and the Universal Media Disc.
BOTTOM LINE: With more than 800,000 units already shipped in Japan, Sony expects to ship an additional 3 million PSPs worldwide by the end of March.
Allsteel Sum Chair
As Allsteel works to reposition itself as a style-minded furniture maker, its Sum chair competes head-on with Herman Miller. The $800 seat is simple and stylish--with several hip upholstery patterns to choose from--but unfortunately compromises some comfort and features compared with rivals.
BOTTOM LINE: Backed by millions in R&D, the Sum exceeded sales forecasts by more than 12 percent between June and December.