Book – Crossing the Chasm

This book was recommended by Kroll Ontrack president, and yes, it was worth it.  The main concept of the book is the existence of a chasm in the life cycle of the high-tech product – a gap between early adopters and the early majority. The “crossing the chasm” requires different perspective of the product, different approaches, and even different people. The recommended approach is to position the product as an ideal solution for a reasonably small niche and expand from this niche later with a ‘recognized solution.”

There is a difference between early adopters and early majority: early adopters what to be first, prelared to deal with glitches, interested in break through discontinuous innovation.  Early majority wants to buy a productivity improvement for existing operations.  Early adopters are not good references for early majority.

Market definition (in the context):

  • a set of actual or potential customers
  • for a given set of products or services
  • who have a common set of needs or wants, and
  • who reference each other when making a buying decision


  • Innovators: interested in technology for the sake of technology (influence, no budget)
  • Visionaries: match emerging technology with strategic opportunity (have budget)
  • Pragmatists: incremental improvement – predictable progress
  • Conservatives: buy new products when  unavoidable and expect “a full package” for the low cost
  • Skeptics: argue that “efficiency solutions” may not necessarily increased efficiency…

The company may be saying “state-of-the-art” when the pragmatist wants to hear “industry standard.”

Crossing the chasm: selecting of the niche. “Make a total commitment to the niche, and then do your best to meet everyone else’s needs with whatever resources you have left over. ”  Commitment to the niche is critical.

Interesting concept “high-risk, low-data decision.”  Trying to find more data is not helpful 😉  “The only proper response to this situation is to acknowledge the lack of data as a condition of the process.  Use target user rather than target segment (one more testament to personas?  🙂  ).

Concept of the “Whole Product” – usual “product” needs to be augmented by a variety of services and ancillary products to become the whole product. Innovators don’t need the “whole product”, visionaries don’t like to “pull the whole product on their own,” but they accept the inevitability as a strategic advantage over their competitors. Pragmatists want the whole product to be available.  Pragmatists buy the whole product based on its benefit, even if the core product is inferior.

Crossing the chasm represents a transition from product-based to market-based values.

It is important to choose which available product is “inferior alternative” – to find the place in the organization’s budget. Positioning – how to make products to be easier to buy – rather than easier to sell.

Positioning formula:

  • For (target customers – beachhead segment only)
  • Who are dissatisfied with (the current market alternative)
  • Our product is a (new product category)
  • That provides (key problem-solving capability)
  • Unlike (the product alternative),
  • We have assembled (key whole product features for your specific application).

Example: – Silicon Graphics in Hollywood

  • For post-production film engineers
  • Who are dissatisfied with the limitations of traditional film editors
  • Our workstation is a digital film editor
  • that lets you modify film images any way you choose.
  • Unlike workstations from Sun, HP, or IBM,
  • We have assembled all the interfaces needed for post-production film editing.

The most important: not what to write down, but what to give up.  🙂