Here is the bestselling guide that created a new game plan for marketing in high-tech industries. Crossing the Chasm has become the bible for bringing cutting-edge products to progressively larger markets. This edition provides new insights into the realities of high-tech marketing, with special emphasis on the Internet. It's essential reading for anyone with a stake in the world's most exciting marketplace.
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March 17, 2009
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Excerpt from Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore
As the revised edition of this book is being written, it is 1998, and for this time we have seen a commercial release of the electric car. General Motors makes one, and Ford and Chrysler are sure to follow. Let's assume the cars work like any other, except they are quieter and better for the environment. Now the question is: When are you going to buy one?
The Technology Adoption Life Cycle
Your answer to the preceding question will tell a lot about how you relate to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle., a model for understanding the acceptance of new products. If your answer is, "Not until hell freezes over," you are probably a very late adopter of technology, what we call in the model a laggard. If your answer is, "When I have seen electric cars prove themselves and when there are enough service stations on the road," you might be a middle-of-the-road adopter, or in the model, the early majority. If you say, "Not until most people have made the switch and it becomes really inconvenient to drive a gasoline car," you are probably more of a follower, a member of the late majority. If, on the.other hand, you want to be the first one on your block with an electric car, you are apt to be an innovator or an early adopter.
In a moment we are going to take a look at these labels in greater detail, but first we need to understand their significance. It turns out our attitude toward technology adoption becomes significant--at least in a marketing sense--any time we are introduced to products that require us to change our current mode of behavior or to modify other products and services we rely on. In academic terms, such change-sensitive products are called discontinuous innovations. The contrasting term, continuous innovations, refers to the normal upgrading, of products that does not require us to change behavior.
For example, when Crest promises you whiter teeth, that is a continuous innovation. You still are brushing the same teeth in the same way with the same toothbrush. When Ford's new Taurus promises better mileage, when Dell's latest computer promises faster processing times and more storage space, or when Sony promises sharper and brighter TV pictures, these are all continuous innovations. As a consumer, you don't have to change your ways in order to take advantage of these improvements.
On the other hand, if the Sony were a high-definition TV, it would be incompatible with today's broadcasting standards, which,would require you to seek out special sources of programming. This would be a discontinuous innovation because you would have to change your normal TV-viewing behavior. Similarly if the new Dell computer were to come with the Be operating system, it would be incompatible with today's software base. Again, you would be required to seek out a whole new set of software, thereby classifying this too as a discontinuous innovation. Or if the new Ford car, as we just noted, required electricity instead of gasoline, or if the new toothpaste were a mouthwash that did riot use a toothbrush, then once again you would have a product incompatible with your current infrastructure of supporting components. In all these cases, the innovation demands significant changes by not only the consumer but also the infrastructure. That, is how and why such innovations come to be called discontinuous.