Crossing the Chasm

Here’s an extract from a recent Tangler discussion on online marketing. Read on if you’re a fan of Geofrey Moore.


Posted 03 Nov 06, 05:07AM

There is an interesting phenom going on where there are so many people using the Internet and knowing how to ‘get it done’ that there is the possibility of skipping the early adopters and going straight to the big chunk mass market. Hmmm……

Of course this is referring back to Geofrey Moore’s great but aging book, Crossing the Chasm.

In it, Geoff says that to get to the early majority and the mass market from the early adopters you have to cross a void. On the geek side you have a technically strong but usably weak product. To get to the other side you have to polish it off and also work your butt off to get the first few users who act as your reference group to the rest of the early majority.

Makes sense.

But what about MySpace? Is it technically strong? NO!! Is it polished and easy to use? NO!! So how did it get to the mass market? And did it even have an ‘early adopter’ period?

Well it probably did. Even if it was just teen agers who are technically strong, or technically exploratory. Then it moves little by little to the right. Not because the product get’s easier to use or technically better, but just because people with the confidence in the product introduce it to the next person.

“Then just click ‘Add to Friend’. Yeah, sometimes it screws up. Just click back and click it again. Then you have to put in this code thing. Just go to photo bucket. I don’t know. Type it in Google.”

So the chasm isn’t skipped, it’s just not about technical brilliance. It’s about investment in training.

What do you think?


Posted Today, 04:00PM

It’s also about ‘getting’ the site. I’m sure there’s loads been written about MySpace but I think it was easy to ‘get’ and easy enough to use. And it met a need.



Posted Today, 04:04PM

I’m not sure moore ever described early adopters in a market as being technical as such. I think you can segment markets and products by a relative level of discontinuity (the pain) versus the potential value (the gain). Innovators and early adopters have high pain and therefore high-gain, then it slowly moves out down the pain level. But that movement is driven by other factors, such as style, relevance, perception, price etc. the ratio of those is the ultimate balancer of market coverage.



Posted Today, 04:07PM

I disagree. Techies play with new toys even when they openly admit they don’t have any pain. They play. Early adopters try new things. It’s about risk taking. Sometimes the pain is actually highest with early majority but they struggle through with what they know rather then explore new ways to solve their problems.


Posted Today, 04:16PM

to a certain extent that’s a false market… without pain they wont stay.. let’s call it the “techcrunch chasm”



Posted Today, 04:20PM

yeah, I agree. it’s true, especially for consumer, that it’s hard to keep innovators. if you get them, then they can become passionate, but they generally have lots of tools and are happy to have multiple (even 5+) for the same ‘job’, each doing it in a specific way or to a specific audience. e.g. for flickr I upload directly, via phone, via my uploader, via the uploader on my (old) pc. and that’s just 1 photo tool. Now I have photo booth, iphoto, I use blogging, I paste to tangler, I even use photobucket, etc. many tools.

The tech crunch chasm is right. You get trials, but no adoption/love. But sometimes that’s enough to move onto the early adopters. e.g. they say “Hey, dude, you should try photobucket, I tried it and I am going to keep using ftp, but you’ll love it.”

1 comment so far

  1. Tara 'Miss Rogue' Hunt on

    Personally, I wouldn’t go using MySpace as a benchmark. It’s more of an anomoly and there is a 1 in a billion chance that lightening would strike twice there.

    Polishing for usability is key. Super simple onramps and many ways to interact even BEFORE one logs on is key.


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