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Can you skip the chasm?

So yesterday I was saying that I thought the newest Palm hardware was a waste of time. Over on engadget a lot of people were saying the same type of thing. If you don’t have the backstory – they are selling a mini laptop, it connects to the phone and you get web, email and some other programs with the benefit of a big screen and keyboard.

All the card-carrying members of team propeller head took off our taped glasses and sneered at it (myself included). They had an interesting pitch though – “Geekboys, this is not for you, you must have your multimedia laptops, this is for the rest of the world.” I paused for a moment and had a flash of inspiration – you could give this to a salesperson and they would have a phone and access to Salesforce.com, all they really need. You could even include audio instructions since they usually don’t read too well (an old joke, not mine by the way).

This got me to thinking further – is it possible to skip the chasm? Crossing the Chasm is standard reading for anyone in the software industry, for the uninitiated – for all tech stuff you usually get acceptance from the geeks if it’s cool but then there’s a period of time where the geeks take it for granted but the rest of the world still hasn’t found out about it or figured it out. If you need more you should really get the book.

My gut is telling me no, it’s not possible. You need the geeks on your side because they are the evangelists, they help you further develop the product for the mainstream audience (basically by making it easier to use and error free). If you don’t get the geeks the product remains relatively unknown and never sees mainstream light of day. I’d be interested if anyone has any examples of skipping the chasm, or opinions as to whether it’s possible or not.