On Sunday, Intel and the manufacturer ASUS announced the launch of their new project: the first community-designed PC. The two companies have joined forces to set up an internet forum, WePC.com in which they invite consumers to “dream the impossible” and submit their ideas of what they would like to see on a PC. Their mission statement, “You dream it. ASUS builds it. Intel inside it”, although not the most catchy and witty of statements, essentially gets the point across: customers have been presented with the golden opportunity to influence the blueprint of a new computer design.
This is both an interesting and shrewd business move. By allowing customers to get their creative juices flowing and have a say in the future development of computers, Intel and ASUS both recognise the importance of listening to their consumers’ opinions whilst simultaneously drawing their names into a wider conversation concerning the future of product design. I mean, here I am talking about it!
This is an issue is discussed in the new book, Crowd Surfing, co-written by David Brain. This book understands a crowd surfer to be the “new generation of businesses and political leaders [who] have learned how to harness the energy, ideas and enthusiasm of today’s empowered consumers.” That’s not to say that what the customer says always goes, but by engaging with their customers in an interesting way, companies can understand and act upon the wants and desires of those who buy their product/service. For as the findings of the Edelman Trust Barometer detail, not only is ‘a person like me’ regarded as one of the most credible spokespeople, but online forums and social networking sites have become one of the main sources used by people to gain information about companies.
So what have people already requested of this new community-designed PC? Some have asked for a “happy laptop” to wake them up in the morning, while others have asked for a ghetto blaster laptop with woofers and tweeters. And me? I personally wouldn’t mind a laptop which produced free wispa bars and cups of tea. So it begs the question, if your laptop granted you just one wish only, what would it be?