Harnessing Customer Loyalty
Other companies have long understood the power of letting their customers help each other out. Software maker Adobe, maker of Photoshop, the most widely used image software anywhere, has hosted a discussion system on their site for ages. There, users help other users through the complexities of the software. Just don't call it a communitythe system is called "support" on the Adobe site.
But, in a way, it is a community. It's a group of people with something in common and the tools to communicate with each other. It's a support community, and it's not rare. Many savvy computer and software makers do the same thing.
For example, Apple Computer (apple.com) has a discussion forum as part of their support area that also features a huge "knowledge base" of Apple information. Software maker Macromedia (macromedia.com) has a support forum for users, as well as a community area where users can sign up for beta tests of new software and join user groups. These companies have clearly learned that their users want to help each other.