Using social media to help with product development is not a new thing. The likes of Lego, Volvo and Ford for instance have been advanced users, whilst Darpa made headlines earlier this year by crowdsourcing the design of their latest tank.
The latest company to attempt to crowdsource product development looks like being General Electric. They announced a partnership with Quirky this week. Quirky specialise in helping inventors turn ideas into actual products that are sold in the marketplace.
GE is licensing hundreds of its patents to the Quirky community in the hope that they will be able to turn them into marketable products. If this initial trial goes well then GE are hoping to grow it and release thousands of its patents into the Quirky community.
The deal will see GE share any revenue generated from the products created. It represents a very low risk way for the company to monetize its intellectual property.
“There are a host of consumer applications that we haven’t had they ability to focus on,” said Beth Comstock, G.E. chief marketing officer. “That just isn’t our core business.”
The flipside of course is that the Quirky community will have access to an extensive amount of technology and intellectual property with which to conjure up something innovative. For Ben Kaufman, Quirky founder, it represents the future for companies that wish to monetize their intellectual property.
“We’re making it really easy for owners of intellectual property, like G.E., to explore new uses,” he said. “For them, it’s extra revenue with little risk, and for us it’s a whole new avenue of different types of invention.”