Marketplace, a daily economics news program heard on National Public Radio, featured a story on January 8, 2002, titled "Microsoft Invades the Kitchen ." In this segment, reporter Aaron Schachter describes consumers' enthusiasm, or lack thereof, for two new Microsoft products and explores the concept that the process of innovation and consumer response has in ongoing market development.


In this lesson you will demonstrate understanding that a market exists whenever buyers and sellers exchange goods and services. You will also demonstrate understanding that the introduction of new products and production methods by entrepreneurs is an important form of competition and is a source of technological progress and economic growth. Lastly, you will conduct a market survey to determine if an invented product is marketable.


Activity One:

ComputerListen to the Marketplace segment from January 8, 2002 titled "Microsoft Invades the Kitchen " . Forward to the time-stamp of 11:19. You may also read the text from the article by reading the transcript. As you are listening or reading, answer the following questions:

  • Which two products did Microsoft offer at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show?
  • What are the demographic groups toward which these products are marketed?
  • What is the purpose of the two new products?
  • What was the general reaction to the introduction of the two new technologies?
  • How did the writer determine whether these products were marketable?
  • What would you be willing to pay for "Freestyle"?

Activity Two:

For this activity you may want to divide into groups of three along with other students in your class or if you choose you may do this activity as an individual.

With your group or by yourself, spend five minutes brainstorming a list of products that would make your life easier or more enjoyable. At the end of the allotted time, answer the following questions in your group:

  • Which of these products could realistically be developed? Circle each of those products.
  • Of the products you have circled, which do you think would be desirable to your targeted demographic (teenagers)? Place a star next to each of those products.
  • Of the products which you have starred, which do you think would be most profitable? Select one product. (Provide suggestions about how to settle disputes about which product to choose. You might vote, select randomly or use a contest to determine which student can choose the product.)
  • Finally, write a paragraph to describe your product. This description will be read by each student participating in your "market survey" in the next activity.

Activity Three:

SurveyComplete the activities Survey Construction Zone Part 1 and Safety Construction Zone Part 2. In this activity, you will conduct your own market survey for the product you just designed. When you have finished setting up your survey, wait for your teacher's instructions about how to participate in your classmates' surveys.

After you have entered in your product descriptions, "rotate" to complete other students' surveys. The surveys are set up to accept up to ten responses. Each group should act as one responder. After each survey has been completed by each group, you will return to your own survey and click through to see your results.


Review the results from your market survey and on the following:

  • Was your product received favorably?
  • Would you consider developing your product?
  • Would you change anything about your product to make your it more favorably received?
  • Now that you have read other surveys, would you change any of the questions in your survey? If so, which questions would you add? Which would you remove?
  • Which question provided you with the most important information?
  • Does your product contribute to technological processes? Explain.
  • Would your product be able to compete successfully against existing products?
  • Compare the expected benefits of this product's development to its expected costs?


You have brainstormed, evaluated and described products that would make your life easier or more enjoyable. You have also conducted a market survey for a product that you have design. With this information take a moment and visit the following sites:

  • Explore the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website's "Patent Time Machine" to learn more about the history of patents in a user-friendly calendar format. This site will provide you a listing of patents created over time.
  • Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to explore opportunities for participation in a contest for student inventors. After you explore contest opportunities, you should detail an idea to develop an invention for the contest. Lastly, you can link to the "Pose a Question" link from this page to ask questions to famous inventors.