Starting with Mobile, Google Invites Users to Crowdsource Product Ideas
Many of you may have read that Google has launched a Product Ideas site, which makes one think Google is looking to crowdsource some innovation in lieu of letting programming teams go off on their own to forge failures (Google Lively, Research Datasets.)
Google is starting out of the gate with a mobile product ideas page. This page is built on top of Google's Moderator application, which allows users to submit ideas that others can view and vote to give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Google invites you, the consumer, to take part:
Whether you've got a great idea about Google Maps for Mobile or there's just one small issue [with] Gmail for Mobile that bugs you, now's your chance to share. See what others have to say and vote up the ideas you like the most. We'll be checking in from time to time to see what you have to say, and will be giving updates on what we see in our Product Ideas Blog.
As of this writing, 2,829 people have submitted 765 ideas and cast 42,683 votes, a fantastic response by any measure.
Namberwuan in Europe calls for "An application that speaks the driving directions in Google Maps," while Yvo in France calls for the more vanilla ability to "Manage Google Calendar on Google Mobile (add, update, delete an event with all functionalities of the Web application) (ex Phone : iPhone)."
Lana in New York wants to see her friends on maps on her phone. She doesn't say what kind of phone she has, but users can already do this via the Loopt social mapping app for the Apple iPhone and the T-Mobile G1.
To start submitting or voting on ideas, users can go to the Product Ideas page and sign in with a Google account.
Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling suggests the "user-generated product ideas and voting may help substitute for curtailed 20 percent time efforts" that CEO Eric Schmidt has brought the hammer down on during the recession.
I agree, though that's likely not the way Google would want us to view it. I like the idea that Google is reaching out to its Web services users in a bear economy to get input about how to shape its products.
While Google is starting with mobile technologies for Google Product Ideas, I think Google Apps would be another logical innovation discussion thread. Remember that users called for task management for years before Google added it to Gmail in December.
App Engine is another pipeline (please let App Engine support languages other than Python), as is search (please add social search tools).
I suspect Sterling may be right when he says the crowdsourcing effort is more attractive to geeks than civilians. I'm in the middle, but I'd give it a try with the suggestions above.
What would you suggest for the Google Product Ideas site?