Amazon.com has posted an amazing holiday season, shipping 3.4 million items on its peak day of December 11. You can learn a lot about "what's hot" by looking at their top sellers in each category (a $19,999 MP3 player?!). But it was Frank Barnako at MarketWatch who blogged about Radica's 20 Questions being one of their top sellers in toys. This product has 205 reviews with a 4.5-star average rating on Amazon.com, and it claims to be able to read your mind.
Why do I love this product? Because, as the title of this post says, it is a "crowdsourced", word-of-mouth wunderkind! Let me explain what I mean.
First of all, I have written about crowdsourcing a few times on Bazaarblog (see my May post introducing the term, August post on Yahoo! crowdsourcing ads – with a nod to GM doing the same, September post on Google crowdsourcing image labels, or early December post on JPG Magazine crowdsourcing photos). I have also referenced the book "The Wisdom of Crowds" several times. 20 Questions is the wisdom of the crowds. It is a database of over 46,700,000 (and rapidly counting) individual games played by "the crowd". The crowd, of course, is you, as in "you: the person of the year" (as you have recently been named by Time magazine). Yes, 20 Questions is a huge database of consumer(player)-generated content!
You can play the game for free here. I first heard about it a year ago, from one of Chris Sherman's articles on ClickZ (theorizing what would happen if 20Q was applied to search engines). If you haven't played it yet, it is quite entertaining. I recommend "Classic 20Q", which has been built by players' answers since 1988. It is hard to beat – pretty much guessing anything you can think of by asking you less than 20 questions.
Second, what does this have to do with word of mouth? Well, everything! This game was literally built by word of mouth since 1988. The basis of most great word-of-mouth campaigns is a great product. This game became great by people constantly playing it. Once you play this game, the chances are pretty high that you will tell someone about it. The more people that play, the "smarter" it gets, the greater the "wow factor", and, therefore, the pass-along factor continues to increase.
So, once you get done with all of your returns, pick up 20 Questions for $14.95 at Amazon.com, CompUSA. or Sears. All of that AI brainpower for such a small price. And now you have a great story about crowdsourcing and word of mouth to go along with it! Finally, for more interesting reading on the background of 20Q check out the Wikipedia entry, especially if you want to tell your friends about folk taxonomy, neural network, AI experiments.