A VMware sponsorship message on KQED got me thinking this morning.
More than an elevator speech, radio sponsorship messages are the epitome of corporate brevity: to succeed you must encapsulate your entire reason for being in 30 words or less.
VMware’s message included this phrase:
"This message is brought to you by VMware. 99 of the Fortune 100 use Vmware. Go to VMware dot com for more details"
Now I wonder if the marketeer who crafted that message was thinking of Moore’s Chasm theory?
Moore’s work on the technology adoption cycle is as fresh today as it was back when it debuted in 1991 (before the Web, before iPods, before Dell, back when Casio and Digital Equipment were big tech brands and we were friends with Saddam and Osama).
We recently dug into "Crossing the Chasm" for some work in the tech sector and were astonished by the richness and depth of Moore’s analysis.
At the core of his work is the idea of a gap between early adopters and the rest of the market.
Early adopters actively cherish breakthrough ideas and latch onto new technology because it is innovative and exciting. They buy promises and seek first mover advantage.
On the other side of Moore’s chasm swells the much larger mass market, and the decidedly less innovative, go-with-the-flow, don’t-stick-your-neck-out, Sure, I’ll-buy before-anyone-else but I’ll-need-some-references-first segment which he identifies as "pragmatist":
Throughout the 1980s, the early majority, or pragmatists, have represented the bulk of the market volume for any technology product. You can succeed with the visionaries, and you can thereby get a reputation for being a high flyer with a hot product, but that is not ultimately where the dollars are. Instead, those funds are in the hands of more prudent souls, who do not want to be pioneers ("Pioneers are people with arrows in their backs"), who never volunteer to be an early test site, ("Let somebody else debug your product") and who have learned the hard way that the leading edge of technology is all too often the "bleeding edge".
By citing their credentials with the F100 VMware are solidly positioning themselves for success with pragmatists.
But, warns Moore, you only have one chance to impress visionaries. The adoption cycle runs from left to right, from early adopter to mass market, not vice versa.
And there is no backing up to the visionary segment once your product has crossed the chasm into the mainstream.
Now I don’t know VMware very well. And what I do know about virtualization technology could be pressed onto a gnat’s eyebrow (and still leave room for something meaningful).
They may well be the pragmatists choice.
But somehow I wonder if VMware wasn’t instead overly influenced by its larger and dominant parent, EMC (which is firmly and irrevocably a mainstream storage company) and rushed into this statement becuase they couldn’t think of anytjing more original to say.
It seems you can pack a lot into 30 words, afterall.
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