Success on the Web is not about making customers do what you want. It is about helping customers do what they want.

My Lenovo laptop has great battery life. The battery lasts for 650 thousand million years if I don't turn it on, and for 65 thousand million years if I turn it on dimly lit. In fact, to save me so much battery life, it always starts in dimly lit mode. It's wonderful. I can't read anything but I'm saving lots of battery life. So, each time I want to use my Lenovo with battery I have to undim it. It wastes my time and mildly irritates me, but then that's what great branding experiences are about.

Lenovo is not alone. I have never ever had a laptop that came anywhere near its battery life claims (and I've had many laptops). I simply don't trust laptop manufacturers to tell me the truth. As far as I'm concerned their advertising statements are akin to me saying that I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, assuming I don't buy anything.

Are there others like me out there, who are becoming more and more immune to false and deceptive advertising and marketing? I think there are. A friend of mine recently said to me: "You know, this Sensodyne toothpaste actually works. It actually does what it says its does." And I agreed with him. Sensodyne is a great toothpaste.

You might think I hate branding and marketing. Quite the opposite. I'm willing to be loyal; but you've got to earn my loyalty. I love Bose speakers; every speaker I buy is a Bose. I'm loyal to Vodafone because I find their customer service to be excellent. I stick with Verio for web hosting. The staff at Marriott hotels must get special training, because I have always found them friendly in an unforced way and genuinely helpful. Treat me right, deliver quality at a good price, and I'll stick with you. But treat me like a sucker; try to trick and manipulate me and you will get my scorn and contempt.

I believe I am part of a new generation of consumers. Think of us as intelligent strangers. We no longer trust most brands anymore because they don't deserve our trust. We are the 'search, compare and verify' crowd, and our numbers are growing. We are the reason the Web is such a success.

Do you think the Web is such a success because it's a technology? Do you think it's a success because it uses HTML? Because you can view it on a computer screen or on a mobile phone? Because it can be wired or wireless?

The Web is a success because it helps us find out more, because it helps us compare, because it gets us in touch with people like us. Because it allows us to share. We are the Web. The Web is the customer and the customer is the new organization.

Commercial organizations and governments need to realize that, with the coming of the Web, power has shifted to the organization of intelligent strangers. We're only in the middle of the beginning of this revolution. It's very exciting. You can make a buck on the Web by doing right by your customers.