An amazing Word-of-Mouth disconnect
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    A new word-of-mouth phenomenon that could shake the world

    • SumoMe

    I’ve been following an interesting contest, but realized
    that it has wider, Earth-shaking implications.

    Here’s the contest, posted by a guy named Colin.
    See if you can see its wider consequences:

    “My new Apple MacBook is shipping …. I told
    my boss that this would replace my IBM desktop and
    I could boot Windows XP on it. I am still confident
    it can be done. I am giving $100 of my own money
    and offering anyone else who would like the instructions
    on how to Dual boot these two operating systems the
    ability to give some of their money into the pot
    as a prize for the person / group that can make dual-booting
    Mac OS X and Windows XP happen on an Intel Mac. Good
    Luck, Colin” (Rules and other details follow) Boot
    Windows XP on an Intel Duo Core Mac and Make Money

    This is an example of a ‘solution contest.’ There
    have been several very famous ones in the past:

    • The Wright Brothers’ first flight was
      actually part of a worldwide contest for powered
      flight (there were 3 rules: powered, controlled,
      landing the same altitude or higher). Everyone
      knew it was about to happen, and about when it
      was going to happen. It was a worldwide race.
    • During WWII, there was an “inventions needed” list
      of over 300 crucial things that we needed. Most
      of them were invented.
    • There was a Friday meeting at
      the Manhattan Project. People would get up and say
      what they needed. If anyone else knew how to do it,
      or who was likely to be able to do it, they got up
      and volunteered the information. If the solution
      was outside the project, people were flown to find
      the inventor and bring the “volunteer” back
      to Los Alamos under military escort.

    Do you see the new implications of the “Windows
    on an Intel Mac” contest?

    It’s a “Consumer Generated
    CGC (You
    heard it here first — I’m looking for
    a better name). Its implications can be HUGE. A customer
    has stepped up and put up $100 into a PayPal account,
    inviting others to join in and contribute. Within
    a few weeks, it climbed to over $12,000, and got
    worldwide coverage in the blogs and technology press.
    Also, someone stands to make a lot of money from
    marketing the solution itself. As I’ve written
    , it would cause sales of Macs to multiply.

    But the point is: here’s a customer who has
    no vested interest other than a desire for the product,
    stepping up and starting a fund for something he

    I think it’s only the first and that it will
    start a major trend.

    This got me wondering: what would you gladly contribute
    $100 or more to encourage the invention of? Don’t
    be too fast to say things like, “cure for Cancer,
    Diabetes, etc., solution to Global Warming, alternative
    to Oil, etc.” These BIG PROBLEMS would require
    almost impossible-to-define rules, the incentives
    are already up and running, a PayPal pot is unlikely
    to increase the motivation of people already motivated
    by a variety of incentives, throwing more money of
    any kind is not likely to increase the probability
    of a solution. Anyone solving these problems would
    get the Nobel Prize, plus plenty of others.

    CGCs are for a certain type of problem:

    • Middle-level
    • Clearly definable
    • Clearly “in the sights.” Something
      we know is inevitable, imminent. We can taste it.
      Our mouths are watering. We would pre-order it
      right now on Amazon (a metaphor).
    • Something where the additional incentive pot is likely to motivate people to invest their resources in developing a solution
    • Something for which adding to the incentive
      IN ADVANCE would be attractive to a large number
      of people

    They may be hacks to existing products. I would
    have paid in advance for a way to defeat Verizon’s
    removal of Bluetooth Dial Up Networking to my Treo
    (already developed), how to defeat the inability
    to program the Prius’ navigation system while
    the car is moving (already posted), and many

    They may be accessories, new products, utilities,

    Are there a lot of these? Is it worth building
    a web site to encourage them?

    Think about it:

    What would you eagerly contribute $100
    in advance to a PayPal pot to see developed?

    Just to make it real, make it something that you
    would actually put up the money for, right now, if
    I set up the contest.

    George Silverman
    Word-of-Mouth Marketing Speaker and
    Author, The Secrets of Word-of-Mouth

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