Companies have realized that since they can no longer expect to unilaterally define the market the way they once did, they might as well let the market have some control over designing and branding the product.
The NY Times wrote this article today on the internet's effect on campaigns (both marketing and political). They speak of a new level of unpredictability in the elections, and attempt understand the meaning behind surges of Paul and Huckabee. I'm not the biggest NYT guy out there, but this is good stuff.
Perhaps only in Washington, where so few people have dominated so much for so long, is this trend viewed as inherently negative.