Can user-led innovation create breakthroughs?

Earlier today I came across an interesting article on that reminded me of something I wrote recently—see the post What are the limitations of market research? So can user-led innovation create breakthroughs? This is a very interesting question but if I were you I would not spend too much time on it. While it’s true that breakthrough products can capture the public’s imagination (think iPhone), it’s also true that breakthrough products are relatively rare. More often than not, companies make money by refining existing products or services.

Consider’s business model: aggregates and displays restaurant delivery menus from over 13,000 restaurants in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and San Diego. Visitors to the website can easily order online, browse and compare menus options and prices, view delivery hours, read reviews placed by other GrubHub users, etc. Is a breakthrough product/service or a refinement of an exiting product/service?