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Crossing the Chasm

Crossing the Chasm is something that happens to any product or start-up. Problem is, figuring out where you are in the crossing. I’ve constantly sought to challenge the notion of ‘Chasm Crossing’ – more out of intellectual curiosity and rigor than anything else.

What I’ve found is ‘Chasm Crossing’ is a very real event that happens to you and your product as part of the natural maturation of business and markets. No matter where you are at, you need to be concerned with ‘Chasm Crossing’. Tara’s suggestion that we are looking it early adopters too soon isn’t something I’ve found to be true in the start-up’s I’ve worked with. In fact, building momentum at every stay of the Technology Adoption Life Cycle is critical.

Alex takes a look at the notion of Chasm Crossing over at Read/Write Web and has a nice complementary diagram.


His conclusion that Crossing the Chasm is “all about getting a technology widely adopted” is true but not sufficient in the sense that adoption or growth are basic drivers for any business.

It’s much more multi-dimensional as concepts go. It is also about understanding at which point services and support must evolve against new customer expectations, for instance. Or, it which point you double-down on stabilizing product features over hot, new bells and whistles. And, what funding is required to build the infrastructure to support the Early Majority.

Where Alex is right though is businesses either shift focus to the early majority and take the innovators with them (Apple), or leave them behind in favor of a bigger market – and hopefully, riches.

Attention is a different dynamic though and shouldn’t be confused with the market overall. For instance, there is still a market for blogs amongst early adopters and innovators – even with the arrival of Twitter. One could go as far to argue that blogs are a market and Twitter is a product.

It is however tough for any new product to command the attention of innovators and early adopters – and as it does, other products that are less interesting or sticky are dumped. And so, Crossing the Chasm becomes so important for any company concerned with long-term growth and success. Innovators are fickle beasts with short-term attention spans.

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