Dell has come a long way from those halcyon days of having no bloggers anywhere in site (circa November 2005) to today.
You know, those days when blogger Jeff Jarvis led a mob through cyberspace and into the telecorridors of Round Rock, only to have them echo downstream from Michael Dell's house overlooking Lake Austin and disappear into the virtual abyss, nary a response in sight.
As my grandpappy used to say, Lord how times have changed.
Today, Dell announced it would be preloading Ubuntu 7.04 (my favorite flavor of Linux).
Where, you ask, did such an idea come from?
Hold on...yes...yes..hit the submit button...from their customers!
Their IdeaStorm site, which launched earlier this year, asked customers across the Web to vote on what it was they wanted most -- call it "social product design and packaging" -- and Dell responded.
The conversation started back around February 16. It's May 1. And now the Penguin will soon be available for preload on Dell desktops and notebooks.
Recently, Jeff Jarvis had drinks with some Dell folk here in Austin, including chief blogger Lionel Menchaca.
I still wonder if he slipped 'em a Mickey.
On second thought, actually, all they had to do was listen.
To their customers.
To the angry Internet mob.
And now, just look at all the love they're getting today with this announcement. Customer preference outbade volume sales opportunity.
There's a long way between those two end points.
The bridge between the two is the way to the future of product development and successful customer relationship management.