We’ve all seen this before. Passionate users want more or different functionality for a given product, and they build it themselves rather than wait. Sometimes it is done purely for passion, other times there’s a profit motive. But the result is often a kick in the pants to the original startup. How the company responds says a lot about their commitment to their users.
A good example from 2006 was a user-created mashup (a hack really) of Pandora and Last.fm that was quickly embraced and supported by both companies. The product is still alive and doing well.
Two examples we’ve seen this year are LinkedInABox and WootAgent.
WootAgent is still in private beta. It’s a small download (for Windows machines only at the moment) that hardcore Woot junkies will want to use
If you don’t know what Woot is: It’s an ecommerce site that launched in 2004, that has a single thing for sale every day. There is a limited quantity for sale, and when that’s been bought, nothing is for sale until the next day. Shipping is always $5, and occasionally they sell “Random Crap” that can be a useless item or something incredible like a new LCD display for $20. The Random Crap sales often sell out within minutes.
The problem with Woot is that people often forget to check the site, and they miss good deals. WootAgent sits in the system tray and automatically pops up when a new Woot is available, a Woot is running out, and a Woot is sold out (see screen shot). For anyone other than loyal Woot users it will be annoying, but for those that care, it’s awesome.
I’ll be looking for other examples of user generated products and features that enhance a much loved core product, and profiling good examples here.