Twenty-five years ago Geoffrey Moore wrote his seminal classic “Crossing the Chasm”. In his book Geoffrey builds upon the diffusion of technology theory from Everett Rogers and shows that there is a huge chasm between the early adopters of your product and the early majority.
I teach this theory as part of my work at Singularity University as I believe it to be particularly important for the new breed of (advanced) technology products we see today. Surprisingly few entrepreneurs know or apply Geoffrey’s insights these days — which leads to products never making it into the mainstream.
The important insight (and I encourage you to read the book — or at least the Cliffs notes) is that the expectations and requirements people in the early majority have (which is the group, which starts to buy your product in quantities that matter) are significantly different than what the early adopters need and want. For example: Early adopters are okay with the product being buggy, feeling rough around the edges and sometimes simply not working all that great at all. Early majority folks still want to be seen as hip and leading edge — but want your product to actually work.
Take the self-driving car as an example. The current iteration of the car has a steering wheel which moves by itself. Which is not what you expect the car to do, a jarring experience and freaks non-tech savvy folks regularly out. To cross that chasm you either need to invest heavily into education; making people feel okay with the steering wheel moving all by itself or — you drop the wheel altogether and create the self-driving bubble car Google recently introduced.
When you design your product, you do your initial testing and early release — don’t forget that you have to cross the chasm if you want to make it into the mainstream.