Not Only a Product, but Also a Community
"By extending the conversation, we can display recent discussion items and also provide a forum that would allow people to add their voice to the discussion without having to go to the community site and register," Duffy said. Chip Gliedman, an analyst with Forrester Research, said this use of Web 2.0 applications started with companies such as Best Buy and Amazon in order to getter a better gauge of what customers were interested in and how their tastes were changing."It's a way to tie all the information that is available into one depository and make it easily available," Gliedman said. "For example, you might search on a Web site for a product and then you are presented with the information and you also might be directed to a relative forum where this is all being discussed." For companies like Intel, the forum also provides a venue to hold onto its core group of buyers for its processors and developers who build applications based on the company's x86 platform. Even if a rival company offers better products, these users might not want to give up the community that has been built around it. "It raises the cost of switching vendors because it's not only the product you are giving up, but also the community," Gliedman said. Intel will launch the Utopia site March 31 in the United States, Brazil, Canada and China and then add seven more countries during the next three months. In order to create the advertising campaign and social networking strategy, Intel used various teams from McCann Erickson, MRM Worldwide and Universal McCann.
Now, Gliedman said vendors such as Dell, through its IdeaStorm blog, are using these applications to not only assist IT departments, but also to create discussions that generate interest in new products and attract new customers.