Apple is in a unique position where its community base wages most of its wars. If someone, anyone decides to pick a fight with Cupertino, Apple's army of fans decends upon them like the plague (I am one of those people fyi). Apple, however, does not arm its army properly. The lack of real conversation (via a blog, press release, video statement, etc.) only hurts the troops on the firing line. But this is an army so large and so passionate, that they tend to overwhelm their opponent by pure force.
Other companies are not this lucky, which is why I write this post. Their customers don't have the company kool-aid running through their blood and some are looking for reasons to switch away.
So what can blogs (or any other form of personal communications) do to help them? The problem with most companies right now is that they use the web to conduct a monologue. They speak to everyone with the same voice and with the same message. They don't engage customers in a conversation, don't give them the opportunity to contribute or share their ideas.
New, progressive companies are open to this conversation and encourage it. This new company sees the value in engaging the customer, making a personal connection through dialogue and growing true fans. These companies may make commodity goods, easily switched at the drop of a hat. If that company has done its job, used the web to make those connections in a cost-effective manner and kept the conversation open, they can prevent the switch, make more people aware of their benefits and grow customers into die-hard evangelists.
Without creating this conversation, the customer is left to create their own conversations and those conversations will usually end at your competitor's door.