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Tales from the Chasm

Mad Marv sent me a link to this post discussing Crossing the Chasm. I’ve talked about the Chasm in many podcasts, the soundbite is that there’s a gap between the adoption of technology by geeks from adoption by the rest of the world.

I’ve found the Chasm to be very helpful because it bundles a lot of concepts such as targeting niches, creating an error-free user experience (ok, reasonably error free), and usability, that can help grow a business.

Here’s a big idea from the post:

The problem is that compared to a few years ago, the speed with which new technologies are coming to the market has increased dramatically. All these technologies are aimed at the early adopters. And they love it and they try it. But the question is what happens when your early adopters run off to play with a new great thing before you have a chance to take your technology mainstream?

For example, some people who used to blog regularly, blog less now because they discovered Twittering (microblogging). Or, early adopters who have discovered Second Life might not have as much time to spend on MySpace anymore.

And from the conclusion:

Early adopters are enticed by new things much more often today than 15 years ago. Expanding on how to retain the early adopters would be good thing to do in the next edition

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of patience reading analysis that becomes more academic than practical. It’s interesting how the comments go from bubblegum pop (Blue Ocean and The Tipping Point), to academic textbooks (Castells).

Here’s my cranky old man assessments:

  1. If the early adopters run off it’s time to put the office furniture up on Craig’s list. You’re done.
  2. Don’t confuse social apps like MySpace with useful technologies, buzz and crowds are different from products that are sold to customers.
  3. You get your customers one at a time, this is a mindset you need to use to balance your plans for bridging the Chasm if you want to continue to make payroll.
  4. In my experience the VP of Sales gets the axe before Marketing, but your mileage may vary.

I’m off to record Marketing Over Coffee now. Marv, thanks for getting my brain warmed up!