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December 30, 2006
Roomba robot love
Here's another product with a serious number of evangelists and citizen marketers behind it: The Roomba.
The citizen-created Roomba Review community is filled with posts and comments on where to find the robotic vacuum cleaner, the differences between models and a significant number of tech support questions and answers -- all supplied by customers. A disclaimer at the bottom of the site says it's not affiliated with the manufacturer, the iRobot Corporation: "We're just really big fans of the Roomba vacuum."
Why? iRobot has given a boring appliance Asimovian life. It's why the vast majority of the 1.5 million Roombas in existence get named, according to an iRobot spokesman. Kids name 40 percent of the vacuums when they're barely out of the box. The naming decision leads to questions of whether a Roomba is male or female. Rosie is the most common name after the robotic maid of "The Jetsons."
The enthusiasm for Roombas means you'll find a few hundred clips of Roomba Rosies in action on YouTube. One filmmaker mounted a camera on the vacuum to create a RoombaCam. That's a significant level of participatory marketing.
iRobot has done a great job of creating the future. Now it (or any company whose products inspire people to humanize them) has the unique opportunity to create the future of marketing by adapting a Lego-like model of partnering with the hacker community. Opening innovation up to the larger community of amateur tinkerers and hobbyists is like adding dozens or hundreds of Edisons to the research lab.
Are you a Roomba evangelist?
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Thank you for the heads up on the iRobot community. Thank you, thank you for sending the copy of Citizen Marketers. I am planning to post a review to my blog.
Do you know if the iRobot corporation has embraced the Roomba community? If so, in what ways? Are company associates partcipating in the communication? Is the firm's marketing department mining customer feedback or even researching product development opportunities?
I saw a Roomba the other day at Sears and marveled at the style and concept. Now, after reading your blog, I may just have to go out and get one to try it out.
i am a roomba evangelist. they are great. i wish i had bought one years earlier. I can't wait for the roomba mower.