The Faster a New Technology Takes Off, the Harder It Falls [@larrydowneS for Wired.com]
That familiar model for technology adoption (first popularized by the noted sociologist Everett Rogers) — with clearly defined market segments adopting new technologies in predictable groupings — no longer applies. Following this work, Geoffrey Moore wrote in 1991’s Crossing the Chasm that successful new product introductions followed Rogers’s five discrete stages, moving from early adopters to mainstream users only after crossing a sales “chasm” in which the marketing message changes from the new and exciting to the familiar and incremental.
But today, new products and services enter the market better and cheaper right from the start. So producers can’t rely on a class of early adopters and high margins to build up a war chest to spend on marketing to larger and later markets. For better and for worse, thanks to near-perfect market information, consumers are too savvy for that. Everyone knows right away when some new offering gets it right — or, conversely, gets it wrong.
The bell curve, once useful as a model of product adoption, has lost its value as a planning tool. This kind of disruption has its own unique life cycle, and with it its own best practices for marketing and sales, product enhancement, and eventual product replacement.