Reinventing the wheel is a bad idea, at least in most cases. So world-class organizations are always checking out the competition, seeing how they do things. The MBA types call it as benchmarking; we just like to get our hands dirty and tear stuff apart.
Often times the purpose is not to actually copy anything directly (and avoiding IP infringement is something we do take seriously) but to learn:
- How is a product built?
- What kind of supply chain does it have?
- Who are the major component and subsystem suppliers?
- What kind of processes were used?
- How is it split up into subassemblies and subsystems
- Was it designed for manufacturability?
- Was it designed for repair
It should be noted that teardowns are an imprecise art and often involve a fair amount of forensics and even guesswork. And for the most part teardowns can render a product less than perfectly functional, not to mention voiding the warranty.