You want to know what makes crowdsourcing work? Money. It’s that simple. You set up a marketplace in which people with useful ideas get paid by people excited to buy them. That’s what Apple’s App Store is. At the end of the day these are just lots of software-enabled ideas that lots of people are thrilled to purchase.
People don’t do this because it is good for innovation. They’re not trying to be noble or cool. Innovators do this because they make money. Users do it because they solve a problem or are entertained. The two groups serve each other in a self-sustaining virtuous cycle.
The fact that the App Store is “closed” is beside the point. As chronicled in this week’s Business Week, the App Store is a finely tuned, carefully crafted machine. Apple would be crazy to let anyone outside muck with that. People like the App Store not because it is open, but because it is optimized -- a source of cash for some and good ideas for others.
So now -- as Michael Hickens observed on his BNET blog last Friday -- we have Steve Ballmer making a big deal over how Microsoft received lots of outside input on making Windows 7 better. Who cares? Does anyone really think people work hard to contribute intellectual property to Microsoft? Why? Because they like seeing Microsoft profit from their work?
Michael goes on to say that, when it comes to crowd sourcing, SAP sets an example Microsoft might wish to follow: “SAP, a proprietary software vendor if there ever was one, which has found a way to actually get meaningful collaboration from its customers without giving away the keys to its kernel.” That’s true. SAP pays them.
In one example we noted earlier, SAP paid someone in the crowd $10,000 for a solution to a web services error handling problem.
The future of crowdsourcing goes to those who are the most efficient at giving cash to innovators in exchange for ideas people want. Let’s innovate that.