HBS Working Knowledge has an article on user led innovation / crowdsourcing. There has been a lot of discussion about the trend, and I maintain that for a small-medium company the process is generally expensive and time consuming.
However this article – which focusses on white water kayaking – makes an excellent point about the concept :
For user innovation to be a force, the cost of creating a new design must be within the reach of a single user, whose reward is solely the improvement of his or her own experience.
This is an extremely important point which is missing from much of the conversation about crowdsourcing.