This article examines the role that global electronic networks will play in shaping future customer responses to product defects. It compares Intel's experience with the flawed Pentium microprocessor to A.H. Robins' handling of the design flaw in the Dalkon Shield IUD twenty years earlier. The Dalkon Shield flaw remained secret for six years. In the case of the Pentium, experts on the Internet conducted a new form of global, "accelerated" science that revealed the chip's flaw in less than six weeks. Ultimately, Intel had to accept the Internet's analysis as the basis for its response. Companies need to objectively assess their vulnerability to this new phenomenon of accelerated science and, if their exposure is significant, they should participate in Internet discussions to establish their presence and credibility to make a quick, effective response.
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