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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

The Chasm and Mobile Applications

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I have been reading a lot about marketing these days. One of the fundamental theories is the Technology Adoption Lifecycle. It categorizes the consumers into specific segments of early adopters, pragmatists and laggards. As it turns out, the classic Bell Curve can be applied here as well. The early adopters form around 13 percent, the early and late pragmatists around 70 % and the rest are laggards. Each segment also has definite characteristics. For any new product the segment should be identified and only one at a time should be targeted. Otherwise it leads to confusion.

For disruptive technologies, those which require a significant change in user behavior, there is a gap between the early adopters and the pragmatists. Successful products are the ones which have managed to cross this chasm and become more widely adopted. Unfortunately, no one really knows what causes the pragmatists to adopt something a particular technology. The book, Crossing The Chasm provides some generic strategy. But it would differ from product to product.

Now mobile phones, as a product have definitely crossed the chasm. It is in the late pragmatists stage right now. But can we say the same thing about mobile applications? I think most of the mobile applications have failed to cross this chasm. And most of the applications have ignored the behavioral change aspect of it. We are used to applications on the desktop. But migrating the same application on the mobile creates severe usability issues which hinders the mass adoption.

Take for example, internet browsing on the phone. The user experience is completely different from what we do on the PC. The behavioral change needed is huge. As a result its still in the early adopter phase. Same thing goes for all other mobile applications which have a desktop counterpart.

So whats the way out? I think we should stop approaching mobile as a replacement for the PC. Its a new computing platform and applications with forge their own way should be developed for it. So instead of trying to replicate the Firefox or IE on the phone, we should be thinking of approaching internet browsing on the mobile in a new way. What that way is still to be discovered!

Here's some more links for reading about this theory:
Act Your Age!
Ten Reasons High Tech Companies Fail.

Tags: Marketing, Technology Lifecycle, Mobile Applications, Mobile Internet.

posted by Rajiv, 7:23 AM


>Take for example, internet browsing
>on the phone. The user experience is
>completely different from what we do
>on the PC.

Have you tried out Opera Mini 4 Beta? It's awesome, browsing is closer to how you do on PC, I can check my yahoo mail/messenger for free, browse almost any site, all for just Rs 100 to airtel.

>I think we should stop approaching
> mobile as a replacement for the
> PC.

Ofcourse :-)

>we should be thinking of
>approaching internet browsing on
>the mobile in a new way.

Very true. While Opera Mini 4 appears to move away from this paradigm, I wish there was a way for this browser to get wap/wml content whenever available, as wap content is designed exactly for mobiles. Opera Mini 4 fetches and renders only html :(
Said Anonymous Anonymous, 8:08 PM  

Bang on!

Mobile apps haven't yet crossed the chasm.
One reason possibly is lack of consideration for the end user. A geek (developer/ente.) feels there an app will be cool to use, however,usually miss out the point that it is the common man who has to use it.

(Web browser is one such example).!
(iphone has a great approach, we will have to wait and see how things pan out).
Said Blogger Ramjee, 3:29 AM  

The major barrier has been mobile applications available in market... Till date majority of applications try to replicate what all users tend to on high processing power machine with ample of memory, while mobile handset works in a restricted environment...

Mobile applications identifed & customized version developed for it works fine. e.g. you can read email on the handled on the fly (user may not be to do everything what he can do over PC), but its the begining... Same is the case with the image capture, video, music... FMC related applications are also hot & having good user response.
Said Blogger CShah, 10:50 AM  

Nice blog Rajiv! I agree with you 100% on the mobile applications. In a way I can compare this with the .COM boom in two ways:

1. The entry barrier is both areas are very less. Thats gobs of people are jumping into mobile application space (similar to .com)

2.Having something 'cool' is much different from building a business. End of the day companies which create significant value (which can be mainly achieved by changing the behaviour) only survive in the market.

I strongly feel mobile apps space is superheated. My previous company (startup) failed mainly because of the same reason. Please read my blog @ http://jayab.blogspot.com/2007/01/my-experiences-with-chasm.html for more details.


Thanks for getting me introduced to the Technology Adotion Lifecycle theory.

There have been two JVs in recent times with the intention of repurposing the applications/contents for Handhelds to make it more meaningful. Even Infy is getting involved into this as this is one of the upcoming big ticket opportunity.

Said Blogger Abhishek, 11:28 PM  

I agreed.
Said Anonymous shaikh, 11:05 PM  

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