The Dell IdeaStorm Index

The Dell IdeaStorm site was an inspired move by the company, providing a way for the market to tell a major supplier what to do, rather than the reverse, which has been the default for the whole Industrial Age.

When the site first went up, it sustained what we might call an Insistence on Service Attack by Linux and open-source geeks. Since then, however, the pressure hasn't let up. At the time of this writing (on September 10, 2008 for the print magazine), the same kind of demand is there.

What we see with IdeaStorm now is a rolling picture—almost a scroll—of market demand. Here's the current list in the order the items appear on the page:

  • Put Ubuntu on the list of operating systems when building a PC.
  • No more plastic wrap, please.
  • BIOS upgrades that don't require Windows.
  • Provide Linux drivers for all your hardware.
  • Standardize power cables for laptops.
  • Can we get Studio Hybrid with Ubuntu?
  • There should be an option of having no trialware on all computers.
  • Please make the Ubuntu XPS Notebook cheaper than the XPS Vista Notebook.
  • Use magsafe power connectors.
  • Pre-installed | alternative to MS Works & MS Office.
  • When you choose not to implement an idea, explain why.
  • Mini 9 Netbook Ubuntu price must be cheaper than the XP price with same config.
  • Have Firefox pre-installed as default browser.
  • Switch to LED monitors.
  • Quit forcing McAfee subscriptions.
  • Tell us what Wi-Fi chipset a laptop has.
  • Backlit keyboards.
  • Stop overcharging on notebook RAM.

To sum up, customers want practical improvements, transparency, promotional crap removal and Linux/Ubuntu support (the latter shows up four times). Maybe some other makers will start listening too.

Doc Searls is editor-in-chief of Linux Journal, where he has been on the masthead since 1996. He is also co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto (Basic Books, 2000, 2010), author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge (Harvard Business Review Press, 2012), a fellow of the Center for Information Technology & Society (CITS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an alumnus fellow of the Berkman Klien Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He continues to run ProjectVRM, which he launched at the BKC in 2006, and is a co-founder and board member of its nonprofit spinoff, Customer Commons. Contact Doc through

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