The community of tech aficionados who participate on the Geekzone forums are some of the harshest critics of Telecom. It's interesting to see then the country's largest telco tap into this pool of switched on geeks to help design a new consumer modem it plans to sell to the wider New Zealand.
Telecom's latest marketing ploy (or community outreach initiative for the less cynically inclined) sees it crowdsource ideas for a modem/gateway product which will go on sale later this year. Geekzone forum members are invited to put in their submissions for features they want to see in the new modem, which are then voted on by other members – with the cream rising to the top.
Currently the top requested feature for this community-built modem (with 104 votes) is a live bandwidth counter which shows how much data each device on the network has used.
Forum members also get first access to a product beta and one lucky winning idea walks away with a 500 GB broadband package for a year and the modem they helped design.
Telecom says this is likely the first time ever a New Zealand telco has worked directly with a community of tech enthusiasts to create a modem. It's such a very specific and niche New Zealand-first claim, we're inclined to believe the telco.
“Early adopters or power users offer great insights to the demands that our wider customer base will be making in the future," says head of consumer marketing Chris Thompson.
"Telecom staff have been working closely with Geekzone for a number of years, participating in a flourishing community of tech enthusiasts who are always forthright with their thoughts and opinions and this is the natural next step.”
Mauricio Freitas, who runs the Geekzone forums, says the opportunity for his community to have direct input into a new Telecom product was difficult to pass up.
"When Telecom New Zealand approached us to help get input from you and other Geekzone users in helping define a new device that could bring that closer to everyone we thought it would be a great opportunity for our community to have a say so we jumped on board," he writes in an email sent out to forum members, including this reporter.
The modem will in production later this year, although it's unclear which features Telecom will take on board in the final design.