Here's a guy who managed to answer the big question: I have a great product idea, how the heck do I get it made? His original company, Mophie, made a bunch of Ipod accessories and launched at MacWorld, thanks to his parent's re-mortgaging their home. Now, he has a company called Quirky that will maybe, possibly produce your idea if you submit it with a $99/fee.
Gotta say, I hate to see a guy who took a big risk and had some success turn around and try to rip off other people's ideas. His company will make way more money from your idea than you ever will. But then again, he is assuming your risk....but still, this rubs me the wrong way. Great ideas are valuable and marketable, salable, profitable ones are rare creatures that you shouldn't just give away. True social product development would streamline the development process for the benefit of society, not to make money.
What is interesting is the idea of garnering commitments from consumers before producing a product (see the homepage). This likens product development to on-demand printing, which could be very neat if it actually works. Producing low volumes will make it challenging to hit price points, but if everyone in a country were given the chance to "commit" - it's a whole new way to raise capital.