Vamshidhar Kommineni

October 7, 2006

Crossing the Chasm: Technology whose time has come

Filed under: Technology — Vamshi @ 7:33 pm

The title of the post comes from this book (see more on Wikipedia) which in turn is based on the earlier Diffusion of Innovation theory.

The book argues that there isn’t a smooth adoption curve for technology products as the diffusion of innovation theory suggests. In particular, the claim is that there is a gap (chasm, I guess) between early adopters and the early majority (see above Wikipedia articles for an explanation of the terms).

I believe in the theory. I think it has been illustrated in the past with products from cell phones to DVD players to LCDs and HDTVs. I still remember the weird looks I would get when I owned a cell phone in college in early 1999 (the friends/acquaintances who did comment to me said something along the lines of "Do you really think you’re so busy that you need the cell phone and need to pay $30/mo for the convenience of being reached anywhere?", and that was the polite ones). Less than 2 years later, every college student in Engineering had a cellphone and today I don’t think college freshmen can imagine a world before cellphones.

I think it is interesting watch the cross-over from diffusion among early adopters (techies like myself) to the population in general. I’m going to comment on a few products/devices to illustrate what I think is this shift in it’s early phases (I may be completely off base of course). It was watching the various articles/posts on these products that led me in search of a unifying theme to tie them together.

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