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Would This Be Design-2.0 Or Social-Designing?

Have you thought of a feature or an application that you wished your PC or Notebook  supported? What if you could design it yourself?

WePC.com is a social network that was recently launched by Intel and Asus, aimed at giving users an opportunity to share their ideas and insights on future designs as well as vote on some product ideas.

The intro page says:

“Imagine your perfect PC. Now imagine top engineers and innovators working around the clock to make that Dream PC a reality. That’s the dream WePC.com is all about.”

Sounds interesting? You can sign up for an account and join many others in the pursuit of creating your perfect PC.  You can share ideas about your dream PC, or create a description of it. You can view dozens of selected ideas and vote on them. Then there is a community-blog where you can talk about your ideas, your dreams products and gripes about existing ones,  and comment on others’ posts.

Does it really work? Apparently, it does; there are thousands of ideas for you to look at and vote on. And the number seems to be growing.

Why does it work? Presumably, there are tons of people who have good ideas that they would like to see implemented and developed into products, but don’t have the resources to do it on their own. So here they are, driving innovation by sharing their ideas with companies that are eager to listen, and find some hot ideas and features to stay ahead in their game.

This is another perfect example of what Malcolm Gladwell calls a “maven-trap” in his book The Tipping Point: a free forum that gives you the tools to create and share your product ideas, vote on others’ ideas and discuss them with other like-minded people. To a lot of people, that’s highly motivating.

This is likely to become a trend not just in the computer industry, but any other consumer-oriented industry as well: automotive, appliances, entertainment, toys and other kids’ products, etc. Would that be a win-win situation for the consumers and the producers? At the outset, it promises to be.

Would there be any challenges? How does it affect patenting? Won’t all competing companies have access to ideas being discussed in each other’s forums? What does it mean to them? Does this create a level playing field for ideas and innovation that’s accessible to everyone, and thus force companies to compete only on the basis “time-to-market,” i.e.,  how quickly they can translate these ideas into real products?

Those are questions for the lawyers to scratch their heads about, but I suspect that the mavens frequenting these forums wouldn’t want to waste their time on such boring issues. 🙂

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