Friday, December 15, 2006

CrowdSpirit -- Crowdsourcing meets Electronics

This morning I came across a new company called CrowdSpirit. Their ambition is to take CrowdSourcing and apply it to retail electronics:

"CrowdSpirit, a Scottish-French venture, focuses on harnessing the power of crowds to allow inventors and adaptors to take their products to market. By involving end-users in every aspect of a product’s life-cycle, the company aims to start a revolution in manufacturing by creating electronic products driven and inspired by customers’ wishes & expectations." -- Urenio
My father proposed a very similar idea to me a few months ago and I scoffed at it (sorry Pops!). My concerns at the time included:
  • Visualization tools -- are there any? Are they shared between all users? How do you ensure compatibility between the tools that different collaborators use?
  • Investors -- when you invest, are you investing only in the idea, or can you see who worked on it? If a given collaborator with an excellent track record is involved in a project, does that make it more investment worthy? Would publishing individual track records go against the grain of crowdsourcing in general?
  • 'Step 4' in the CrowdSpirit system: "Customers purchase products thanks to the CrowdSpirit Supply chain. The community ensures the product support and recommands products to retailers" -- I haven't seen this in action, of course, but it seems a lead of faith to me to assume that just because a user had a small role in the development of a product that they would necessarily buy it or recommend it. To me, this seems to be creating a business model off of lead users -- people who will be so passionate about the service that they will not only participate in the design of the product but also purchase it and push it to be carried by local retailers. Given what we know regarding the percent of active users in '2.0 communities', this seems risky.

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