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Can another twisty puzzle ever be as successful as the original Rubik's Cube?
YES - only with a large company and huge investment 8%  8%  [ 4 ]
YES - only with a determined entrepreneur and clever marketing 22%  22%  [ 11 ]
YES - with some other success formula (please specify) 8%  8%  [ 4 ]
NO - the novelty has gone and people aren't interested anymore 47%  47%  [ 24 ]
NO - people might be interested, but it would cost too much 6%  6%  [ 3 ]
NO - for some other reason (please indicate) 10%  10%  [ 5 ]
Total votes : 51
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 Post subject: Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:22 am 
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This thread made me think of running a poll, for those of you (like myself) who are thinking about commercialising your own puzzle idea(s), or who would just like to see another wave of twisty puzzles mass produced in the future...

Please give your thoughts and let me know if I should add any other (missing) options to the poll.

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Last edited by KelvinS on Tue Jun 09, 2009 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:56 am 
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I obviously went for the second option, and I would like to add more hints:


>> 1. You need puzzle a which can catch the eye, a puzzle which the first time people see it, they *will* remember it.

>> 2. The puzzle must not be overly complex. As seen at my video at the Hong Kong Fair, the moment I said that
a puzzle was difficult, the customer would take a step back!!! (Rox was also calling me to slow down LOL)
And when I say complex, I am not only talking about its mathematics, but its mechanism too. Otherwise,
it will not be deemed as a viable option.

Here is a very important hint. And I know it will hurt some, but here it is anyway...

>> 3. The twistable puzzle, regardless of its complexity, simplicity, attractiveness, *enter your own word here*,
is no longer a puzzle that catches the eye of a regular person. They will only say "hey! another Rubik's Cube!".
Although many people in this forum understand the quality, difficulty and the creativity of such puzzles, this is
not enough for the masses. You need some sort of uniqueness, not only in the shape, but also in the movement.


And some personal final note:
The reason I have faith in my company, is because of our depth in marketable puzzles. Although I enjoyed the benefits
of a provisional patent and then a PCT patent, I did not file the patent to become rich, but to convince the world that
the puzzle I invented was really worth it. And the reason we will succeed is because of the inability of most people
(not all) to get their minds unstuck from the twistable form. I am neither arrogant here, nor slamming twisty puzzles.
Without Rubik and all the rest, without this forum, without you all inspiring me, my puzzles would also have never existed
and I would be nothing. I am only saying that we *can* and we *should* sometimes look at the forest, instead of starring at the tree.

This world is full of potential for new discoveries, so let's find them!

:)


Pantazis

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:21 am 
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I should mention my bias first. I would prefer it if our niche never goes mainstream again. Consider cell phones: their market penetration as of a few years ago is roughly comparable to the Rubik's Cube in the 1980's. If twisty puzzles were as popular today as cell phones are, would any of us be having any fun on this website? I sure wouldn't.

I also question what you mean by "success".

Why was Rubik's Cube so successful?
The Rubik's Cube appears to be perfect, and that alone qualifies as a "success". Every other twisty puzzle since can be seen as having taken one or more of the perfect attributes of the Rubik's Cube and either exaggerated it or reduced it to create a new puzzle. In this sense, these extrapolations on the fundamental element could all be seen as poor copies, just like the entire soft drink industry could be seen as offering nothing but various forms of dirty water. Some may prefer one or more of the extrapolations over the foundational element, but the perfection of the foundational element is never in question. It is "hydrogen" on the periodic table of twisty puzzles. The Rubik's Cube's commercial success is the result of its perfection, certainly not its marketing, production or distribution. (It would seem that a two or three page article would best describe this perspective.)

Can it be repeated?
The world has moved on quite a bit since the 1980's. A puzzle launching today has to compete with video games, laptops, cell phones, digital books, the internet, ubiquitous cable TV, busier lifestyles, and a less innocent consumer base. Has any other single toy ever experienced the commercial success of the Rubik's Cube? If there are examples, they are few and debatable. I would say the chance of ANY TOY repeating Rubik's Cube's commercial success in the future is very low and falling quickly, and that the chances of a twisty puzzle doing it are already 0%.

Sandy


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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:55 am 
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For me a no.
These days nobody would have the patient to learn how to solve a puzzle. There are many more stuff to do, and for most the interest of puzzles are low. People call puzzlers really fast nerdy.

Now its a sort of prosperity circus. People want more and more. Most of the time not happy with one thing. As for the rubik wich was in 1980, people didn't had as much entertainment as now. So it became a sort of must, as nobody could do it. People spended allot of time to solve it and most of them failed.
So the chance is almost 0 that there will be a succes like the Rubik's Cube.

Its hard to explain this in english, I hope it makes sense :)

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:35 am 
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Thanks for all votes so far. Although it's too early to be sure, the results so far certainly give a strong consensus that the success of Rubik's Cube cannot be repeated with another twisty puzzle, which perhaps might explain this post.

Still, I think the reason for this has more to do with the fundamental perfection of the original design, as explained by Sandy, rather than anything to do with new technologies and changing needs. The reason I say this is that I have seen that, even now, Rubik's Cube has been one of the top 5 bestselling toys on Amazon UK website for the past FIVE years: :shock:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/bestsellers/ ... k_h_b_cs_2

Clearly there's something about it that has enduring appeal (despite increasing competition from all the video games, laptops, cell phones, digital books, internet, etc.), but I still wonder whether it can be improved and modernized to regain its mass appeal, like the yo-yo a few years back, at least for a short while.

Also, why did sudoku become so popular recently, again despite all the modern distractions? What do these two puzzles have in common that made them so popular even today? Surely the case of sudoku gives hope that it might be possible to repeat the success of Rubik's Cube, no?

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Last edited by KelvinS on Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:04 am 
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I think that the Rubik's Cube was successful because...

1) The idea was so new and ingenious that no one had ever thought of it before. And since no one had ever thought of it, it was new in their minds that they wanted to try (does that make sense) and it wasn't some stale old idea.

2)Good marketing.

But for my reason in 1), that is why no other twisty puzzle will be groudbreaking enough to ever become a common toy

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:20 pm 
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I think that the Cube originally gained popularity because of a seemingly simple concept that produces *very* complex results. Some of you on here may be familiar with the Mandelbrot set? For those of you who aren't, I'll make a brief description here.

The Mandelbrot set is generated by an iterative function over the set of complex numbers, where one coordinate axis is the real numbers and the other is the imaginary numbers. Each point in this so-called "complex plane" is fed into this iterative function which returns either true or false, true indicating that the point is contained within the Mandelbrot set. The resulting figure, when graphed, is rather nifty-looking and very complex. More "artistic" implementations also take into account the number of iterations required to determine the result, and assign colors to this number. Curious about the formula used? Here it is:

Zn+1 = Zn + C, where Z1 is the initial point, and C is a constant.
If a point causes the function to escape to infinity, the point is not in the Mandelbrot set. Otherwise, it is.

That's it. That's all there is to it. Surely something that concise can't be too complex, right? Well, let's just say that the devil's in the details. :wink:



Gee Fractangle, I thought you said a *brief* description! Anyway, my point is that the simplicity-leading-to-complexity is what made the cube so popular. If anything should make waves the way the Cube did, it needs something to grab peoples' attention, and more importantly, keep their attention. The Revolution looked like a Rubik's Cube, but it was made to look that way to grab peoples' attention. The problem is that it didn't fulfill the 2nd part: keeping their attention. Any twisty puzzle that looks "Rubik's-ish" isn't going to grab peoples' attention simply because it makes people think of the original cube, sort of like Pantazis said, they'll say: "I'm not getting that newfangled one; I can't even do the original one!" I almost wonder if that more than anything else was the cause of the failure of the original Rubik's 4x4x4.

Anyway, I hate to be pessimistic, but many good points have been made as to why Seven Towns (or anyone else) will produce a puzzle like the Domino or the Slim Tower. Meffert's is a good example of a company that caters to a niche market, but I don't think that the vast majority of people will ever become a part of this niche market.

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:31 pm 
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So personally I think that the closest we have come to a puzzle craze since is sudoku, although that has not gone nearly as far as the Rubik's Cube did. I just think that every other TP would just be seen as "Rubik's-Like," and people who couldn't solve the 3x3 in the 80s wouldn't try again. I really just don't see another TP ever being able to breach the "Rubik's-Like" barrier.


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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:33 pm 
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Definitely not, at first the Rubik's Cube gave the impression that people could do it, so people bought it to test their theory.

Now that the Rubik's Cube has achieved it's confusing and mischievous reputation, people tend not to bother with them now.


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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:09 pm 
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The Rubik's cube was a largely viral success, with the vast majority of the early copies sold being knockoffs.

There has been another puzzle which was comparably successful, which is the 15 puzzle. That was also a viral success, with lots of producers making them in the early days of the puzzle and continuing to today.

The list of less successful puzzles has a quick dropoff after that - nxnxn, rubik's magic, pyraminx, then maybe square-1 and whip-it clones, and somewhere down the line you get things like rubik's clock. But basically there's the two big hits and then there's everything else.

I think the only way to have another comparable hit is to have another viral success. We're 2 for 2 on data points which work that way.


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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:35 pm 
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Bram wrote:
The Rubik's cube was a largely viral success, with the vast majority of the early copies sold being knockoffs.

There has been another puzzle which was comparably successful, which is the 15 puzzle. That was also a viral success, with lots of producers making them in the early days of the puzzle and continuing to today.

The list of less successful puzzles has a quick dropoff after that - nxnxn, rubik's magic, pyraminx, then maybe square-1 and whip-it clones, and somewhere down the line you get things like rubik's clock. But basically there's the two big hits and then there's everything else.

I think the only way to have another comparable hit is to have another viral success. We're 2 for 2 on data points which work that way.

This of course makes complete sense (and was also the case with sudoku), but this does not explain WHY these particular puzzles went viral, while none of the others did. So, what made these three puzzles go viral in the first place?

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:54 pm 
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I think the resurgence in popularity for the cube in the last 3 or 4 years has to do with the abundance of online tutorials on how to solve the cube as well as the internet providing a place for puzzle lovers to get together.

People have a chance to finally conquer this thing and gain some sort of bragging rights with their friends. I believe that the majority of people who can "solve" the cube now days didn't figure it out on their own but had help.

The success of the original cube can never be repeated, there will always be fad toys (tickle me elmo, hula hoop, etc etc) but they fade quickly and never reach the levels they had at the height of their success. People will see other twisty puzzles and dismiss them as boring knock-offs of a rubik's cube.
Also I think that these days if it doesn't beep, have flashy lights and have pretty buttons, people are just going to give it a pass.
You need a hook in this electronic age. maybe a touch screen Rubik's Cube where you manipulate the cubies with your finger tips and then it blows up into a large scale fire works projection on to your ceiling when you finally solve it.


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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:04 pm 
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Here are two blog posts from Seth Godin that give some insight on this subject of "Why the Rubik's Cube was so successful"

What makes an idea viral?
The Long Tail and the Dip



The Rubik's Cube started out as a niche market toy, but because it was so remarkable, the idea spread and became "viral". The demand went up beyond anyone's expectations, but came crashing down just as quickly when the novelty wore off. The reason it is still around is that the puzzle is so remarkable that it created a new category of puzzles.

Most companies will not try to market anything to the mass market unless there is a reasonable return, and a market cap of 5000 puzzles (rough estimate) is not sufficient for their interest. Meffert's is a bit different because they are a niche market company with a following. The people who are interested in the puzzles are already paying attention to what is being produced. They are part of the puzzle "tribe".


What will it take for a puzzle to go viral? It needs to be REMARKABLE. The only puzzle on this forum that has gone "viral" (at least that I know about) is Jason's Petaminx.

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:44 pm 
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Gene wrote:
You need a hook in this electronic age. maybe a touch screen Rubik's Cube where you manipulate the cubies with your finger tips and then it blows up into a large scale fire works projection on to your ceiling when you finally solve it.


Exactly!

The future of Twisty Puzzles depends on Flashy Lights!

Haha just kidding but you're right. People these days want exciting things, and though we may consider the Rubik's Cube exciting, other people don't.

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:53 pm 
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I think that the success of Rubik's cube is from the initial reaction and the subsequent reaction(s).
The initial reaction is shock that a layer of blocks can turn without the whole thing falling apart. After that there is the basic curiosity of "how does it do that?", tinged with an appreciation of both its inherent simplicity and its implied complexity. :)

If something else comes along that can create that kind of a response it can succeed. If you remove from that equation the particulars unique to the cube, you might see that this kind of response has happened before.

*


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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 7:41 am 
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Bram wrote:
The Rubik's cube was a largely viral success, with the vast majority of the early copies sold being knockoffs... I think the only way to have another comparable hit is to have another viral success.

Puzzlemaster42 wrote:
The Rubik's Cube started out as a niche market toy, but because it was so remarkable, the idea spread and became "viral"... What will it take for a puzzle to go viral? It needs to be REMARKABLE. The only puzzle on this forum that has gone "viral" (at least that I know about) is Jason's Petaminx.

I do think that "going viral" is the key for reaching the mass market - any new twisty puzzle would need some new, surprising and distinctive ("remarkable") feature that people would actually WANT to tell their friends about, otherwise there will be no "special message" to spread and the product will die out before it ever succeeds. In fact this is exactly what I meant by "clever marketing" in option 2. I have read many books on viral marketing (including some by Seth Godin, mentioned above) and the best quote I read was:

"Advertising is the price you pay for having a boring product that nobody wants to talk about."

Just think about that for a second... This one quote has completely changed the way I think about marketing!

Now, I think what made people talk about the original Rubik's Cube is nicely summed up by David J:

David J wrote:
I think that the success of Rubik's cube is from the initial reaction and the subsequent reaction(s). The initial reaction is shock that a layer of blocks can turn without the whole thing falling apart. After that there is the basic curiosity of "how does it do that?", tinged with an appreciation of both its inherent simplicity and its implied complexity.

I also agree with David's other point (not quoted) that any new puzzle CAN succeed - IF it can create that kind of response. So, what would a new twisty puzzle need to get people talking? Clearly, just changing the shape, colour or labels (or even all these features together) may help to make the puzzle LOOK different, but it would not be enough to get people talking: as others have already said in this thread, people would see this as a poor knock-off copy which adds no real interest or value to the original Rubik's Cube. For me, even the Petaminx has nothing really new that would be worth talking about outside our small community, besides the fact that it is just bigger and a lot more complicated (sorry Jason). I would even go a step further and suggest that adding flashing lights and electronics (as some people suggested above) would also not be enough, as I think this would just be seen as a cheap and tacky marketing gimmick.

So what WILL make people talk? Is it possible to add some remarkable new feature that people will want to tell all their friends about?

Well, one twisty puzzle which DOES have a strong viral message that could spread by word of mouth into the mass market is the Void Cube: "How on earth can it possibly work without a central mechanism?!" And to prove my point, I have even told friends who have no interest in twisty puzzles about that one (although I don't know if those friends ever told THEIR friends...)

Can anyone think of any other "remarkable" new twisty puzzle ideas that people might talk about outside our community?

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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 6:40 am 
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Kelvin Stott wrote:
Bram wrote:
The Rubik's cube was a largely viral success, with the vast majority of the early copies sold being knockoffs.

There has been another puzzle which was comparably successful, which is the 15 puzzle. That was also a viral success, with lots of producers making them in the early days of the puzzle and continuing to today.

The list of less successful puzzles has a quick dropoff after that - nxnxn, rubik's magic, pyraminx, then maybe square-1 and whip-it clones, and somewhere down the line you get things like rubik's clock. But basically there's the two big hits and then there's everything else.

I think the only way to have another comparable hit is to have another viral success. We're 2 for 2 on data points which work that way.

This of course makes complete sense (and was also the case with sudoku), but this does not explain WHY these particular puzzles went viral, while none of the others did. So, what made these three puzzles go viral in the first place?


...Only most forumers are against knockoffs. Knockoffs hurt business, but help business.... paradox?

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2x2 1.xx (2.88)
3x3 11.xx (15.81)
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 Post subject: Re: POLL:Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:53 am 
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Kapusta wrote:
...Only most forumers are against knockoffs. Knockoffs hurt business, but help business.... paradox?


I am not sure what you mean by paradox. Knock offs survive from the success of a puzzle.
They certainly do not create the success, and they would not even exist without this success.
(just like a quote states: "only successful puzzles are copied").

Going viral has nothing to do with knock offs.

;)


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 Post subject: Re: Why was Rubik's Cube so successful? Can it be repeated?
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:18 am 
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The void cube point is very interesting. I do believe that Gentosha and Okamoto can become successful in the mass market. Why? Their ideas (so far only Void and Floppy but who knwos whats next?) are revolutionary and clearly distinct from the Rubiks cube, yet familiar at the same time. I personally share the opinion that the Void Cube is a great example of a puzzle that could become "viral". If it was sold more widespread perhaps it could get more exposure.

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