Three Standard Deviations from the Norm: Crossing the Chasm in Real Time


Here's a quote from the very first few pages of Crossing the Chasm:

Innovators pursue new technology products aggressively. They sometimes seek them out even before a formal marketing program has been launched. This is because technology is a central interest in their life, regardless of what function it is performing. At root they are intrigued with any fundamental advance and often make a technology purchase simply for the pleasure of exploring the new device's properties. There are not very many innovators in any given market segment, but winning them over at the outset of a marketing campaign is key nonetheless, because their endorsement reassures the other players in the marketplace that the product does in fact work."

Wow. Sound like anyone you know?

The thing that's amazing about this paragraph is that not only does it describe me to a T, but the process it's describing has been accelerating in the last few years because of the advent of search engines and weblogging. Really accelerating.

Here's the timeline of the past 45 hours:

Tuesday, 11 a.m., I go to the Apple Store in downtown San Francisco and stand in line with the hoards of MacWorld goers and buy a new music player solely based on the fact that it's new. I already have a serviceable player, I have no need for the one I buy, but I buy it anyways just to explore.

By 5 p.m. that day, I've already written on my weblog a review of the device and made it public. Within 24 hours, dozens of other bloggers and news organizations start linking to that review.

Within 48 hours, Google and other search engines have indexed the review and it becomes highly ranked for "iPod Shuffle" and #3 for "iPod Shuffle review".

This morning, checking out the Last 25 Searches of this blog notes that the vast majority of them are already looking for reviews of the Shuffle. These would be the Early Adopters, and more importantly, the Early Majority from around the world, relying on the Innovator (that's me) to reassure them that the product does in fact work. All within 48 hours.

Another way of looking at this is not only is the process speeding up, but search engines and weblogs may be obviating the need for Early Adopters to play infomediary between the Innovators and the Majority. Just about everyone can do a Google search, right? This moves the chasm over a notch and puts even more emphasis on courting the thought leaders and innovators.

Is it just me, or is this a whole new world of marketing?


Update: Okay, I blew this one. I admit it. After a long tortured discussion in the comments, I see now that it's just plain ol' PageRank at work. People will buy Shuffles regardless of my review, and the natural selection of Innovators vs. Early Adopters, etc. will continue. What can I say, I can't be right all the time. It seemed like a pretty interesting observation this morning... ;-)

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