Crossing the Chasm

Written on June 30, 2014. Written by .

This book provides a great mental model for how high-tech marketing works. It presents a technology adoption bell curve divided into customer groups based on how early they will adopt a new technology. The groups correspond to innovators who try new technologies for fun, early adopters (or visionaries) who are the first to find a real practical use for the product, the early majority (or pragmatists) who will adopt once a new technology has been proven by some of their peers, the late majority who wait to adopt until it everyone else already has, and the laggards who resist adoption for as long as possible. The Chasm refers to the gap between the early adopters and the early majority, which is a difficult transition. One of the key points is that most customers are looking to other customers for purchasing recommendations, which creates a chicken and egg problem that is best solved by appealing the the innovators. However, innovators don’t usually like to pay for technology, so you may have to wait until you get to the early adopters before the money starts coming in. This mental model applies to technologies that the author refers to as “discontinuous innovation”, which means a technology that requires a significant change of behavior for the customer.

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