Book Review: Crossing The Chasm

Crossing The Chasm:  Marketing And Selling High-Tech Products To Mainstream Customers, by Geoffrey A. Moore

One of the more common issues I have faced in life regarding technology is that people tend to assume I am far more ahead of the curve than I am.  Although I am more of a pragmatic to conservative buyer and user of technology, my general curiosity and level of knowledge tends to lead others to think that I am some sort of early adopter of technological trends, which leads them to be confused when they see me act in ways that are far less technologically savvy than they would expect, like not having a cell phone until I was in college or still preferring paper books to ebooks to this day.  What this book does is it pays a great deal of honor to the sorts of concerns that people have who are where I stand when it comes to new technologies, and helps to bridge the gap between those who adopt technology early and enjoy it and those whose attitudes are a bit more wary and skeptical about technology without being hostile to it.  As this is something that many companies do not understand and do well, this book was very helpful in better understanding how I stand with regards to technology and how it is that others could appeal to me and people like me.

This book is a slim one at about 200 pages and it is divided into seven chapters and two parts.  The book begins with a preface, foreword, and acknowledgments.  After that the author discusses the discovery of the chasm that exists between early adopters and the early-majority adopters that allow a given company or product to reach a mainstream audience (I), which includes an introduction on the approach of Bill Gates and why it doesn’t usually work as well as chapters on high-tech marketing illusion (1) and enlightenment (2).  After that the rest of the book is focused on an extended metaphor of the Normandy invasion of how a company can cross the chasm from early adopter curiosity to a dominant product among mainstream users (II), discussing the D-Day analogy (3), focusing a target of a marketing attack (4), assembling the invasion force by providing a full-spectrum solution to a particularly narrow niche (5), defining the battle in such a way (6) that one sets the terms of that niche’s standards, and then launching the invasion to find a secure place in the mainstream (7), as well as a conclusion about moving beyond the chasm to mainstream success, as well as an index.

There are a few key insights as to what mainstream companies and audiences want from their technology.  Included among these mainstream expectations is a full solution that answers a whole host of concerns that are not being addressed, which is why mainstream markets prefer HP printers with the ink and service contracts included even though the printer component of competitors may be superior in terms of some features.  The writer himself being more on the pragmatic to conservative side of users and my own identity in that segment of technological users makes this book particularly worthwhile in that it helps explain why it is that some heavily hyped technologies (like the Segway) never manage to catch off the way that they are expected to do because enthusiasts and mainstream audiences have different criteria for judging technologies and different things that they are looking for.  A book like this made me feel less irritated at techies and tech companies for being more of a mainstream band-wagon technology user and has hopefully helped a great many companies do a better job at figuring out how to appeal to normies when it comes to the adoption of new technologies.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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