Standing on both sides of the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers I started reading Crossing the Chasm last night, and 30 pages into the book, I’m wondering where I fit along the Technology Adoption Life Cycle bell curve. Until now, I’ve always thought of myself as an innovator or early adopter. After all, I’m a computer guy, and I spend a lot of time thinking about technology. But after reading a bit and thinking about my own consumer behavior, I’m surprised to discover that I’m moving to the right of the curve, more towards the early majority category. Perhaps I’m becoming more risk-averse?

Here’s a sampling of when I adopted various consumer technologies (and my best guess as to where it was on the bell curve when I adopted it):

  • email – 1992 (innovator)
  • web browsing – 1994 (innovator)
  • Linux – 1994 (innovator)
  • web publishing – 1995 (early adopter)
  • e-commerce – 1996 (early adopter)
  • PDA – 1997 (early adopter)
  • vanity email address – 1998 (early adopter)
  • cell phone – 1998 (early majority)
  • snowboarding – 1998 (early majority)
  • MP3 ripping – 1999 (early adopter)
  • electric toothbrush – 2002 (late majority)
  • broadband Internet – 2000 (early majority)
  • P2P file sharing – 2000 (early majority)
  • TiVo – 1999 (early adopter)
  • LCD projector TV – 2001 (early adopter)
  • DVD player – 2001 (early majority)
  • 802.11b wireless network – 2002 (early majority)
  • CD burner – 2002 (late majority)
  • blog – 2002 (early adopter)
  • antilock brakes – 2002 (late majority)
  • digital camera – maybe this year (early majority?)
  • hybrid or electric car – 2005? (early majority?)
  • Lasik eye surgery – never (laggard)
  • digital watch – never (laggard)

I think the key has to do with technology for technology’s sake versus pragmatism. To quote Moore:

The early majority share some of the early adopter’s ability to relate to technology, but ultimately they are driven by a strong sense of practicality. They know that many of these newfangled inventions end up as passing fads, so they are content to wait and see how other people are making out before they buy in themselves.

At this point in my life, I see myself as more of a pragmatist. Six years ago, I bought an Apple Newton PDA because I thought the technology was cool and I couldn’t stand the idea of having to contort my handwriting to the machine. I wanted the machine to recognize my handwriting! After all, the machines are supposed to be working for us, not the other way around.

These days, I’ve settled for a Palm Zire. Why? It’s more practical. It’s way smaller than the Newton, so it fits in my blue jeans pocket. And it gets the job done. Sure, it doesn’t have whiz-bang artificial intelligence handwriting recognition software. But it’s good enough.

5 thoughts on “Standing on both sides of the Chasm”

  1. Before you start really beating yourself up, you may want to ask about how quickly you followed these other sure-bet technologies:

    Beta max recorders

    optical media drives

    Trisdan tape media backups

    900Hz wireless home networking

    Be

    Smalltalk

    .dCOM protocols

    Wireless Broadband networking

  2. i’m not sure i agree with your email and vanity email assessments.

    and you should probably rename TiVo to “dvr”.

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