Dell IdeaStorm lets users submit their ideas about improving Dell's products and services, and the community votes on the best ideas. It's described on the Dell blog as "a combination between a message board and Digg.com." There will be some reactionary digg bait from other blogs about how IdeaStorm copies digg (yawn!), but really who cares about that. As our series on international web apps has shown, every country in the world has at least one digg clone. The real interest is in whether Dell can successfully build a community here. I'd say they have a great chance, given how many people in the world use Dell products - and how controversial Dell is (the exploding Dell laptop stories, its checkered customer service history, and so on). So if anything, I'm expecting some heated comments in IdeaStorm!
Likewise StudioDell could turn out to be an effective way for Dell to deliver its marketing messages via online video. Already there are a bunch of informative videos about How to mount Flat Panel TVs, Holiday tech Toys, How to set-up WiFi networks, and more. They're also inviting users to upload their Dell "stories", but Dell needs to be careful this doesn't turn into an infomercial spot. Dell says in its upload video page that it doesn't edit content, however it does moderate "for technical relevance, informational or entertainment value and good taste." So it'll be interesting to see if they let in videos that are critical of Dell - I'd suggest they must do so, otherwise the user-generated videos will be seen as little more than informercials.
I think these new 'web 2.0' products by Dell are encouraging - it's good to see a traditional computing company try out these community-based Web apps and services. I really don't want to read any nonsense from other blogs about Dell "copying" successful web 2.0 services like Digg and YouTube, because let's face it - the likes of Digg and YouTube are best-of-breed services and really should be copied by other companies. The real question will be how much community input Dell gets - and how uncensored it will be. But it's a great start by Dell.