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
Contest.” 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
before, 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:
- 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
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.