Sunday, November 26, 2006


The lucidity of Moore’s writing makes his arguments both compelling and persuasive. Given the reported influence that his text has had on both the technology and other market segments it is difficult to challenge the merit and value in the contribution that he makes.

However, before jumping into (or dare we say over) the chasm, it is perhaps worthwhile reflecting on some suggested limitations to Crossing the Chasm.

(1) What about the product?

How to assess the marketability of a product, the thought process to be followed and hurdles to be overcome is almost entirely neglected by Moore. Clearly the intrinsic merit of a product is important (albeit not determinative - consider Betamax and VHS), as is assessing the potential market. Moore may rely upon the innovator segment in the life cycle to filter wheat from chaff, but how realiable is this? Can judgment not be brought to bare at drawing board stage?

(2) The bell curve segments: a nebulous populous

Perhaps of more concern is the populous of the what Moore potrays to be rigid adoption cycle segments. They are defined by volume. This, it is submitted has two consequences:

(i) It can never be wrong
If the first x% are early adopters, the next Y% early majority etc., they will be so by definition regardless of psycho-social profile.

(ii) What if defined by characteristic response?
No allowance is made by Moore to the product or exact market segment. Could it not be that some segments are occupied by more visionaries than pragmatists etc.?

(iii) The occupants of the segment cannot be definitively identified until they have demonstrated their response to the disruptive innovation

After all it is this response (notwithstanding the above) which defines the segment that is to be occupied by them. So, whilst Moore suggests we should target segments, and thus focus our attack informed by the characteristics of the relevant buying group, how this is actually to be done before such a reaction is displayed is perhaps under developed.

(3) The story of a maturing product

Whilst Moore can marshal many examples that apparently support the adoption cycle – it is by no means clear that this was the driver for it. Could the transition simply be explained by broadening the potential market. Product X appeals to Y amount of technology focussed people/companies. This having been successfully the product is developed and matured to increase its appeal to more people and so on. If this analysed in Moorian terms as crossing the chasm, and if this is such a precarious ordeal, wouldn’t all companies relate to this journey, is this in fact the case? Or did the product mature and the market broaden as a consequence.

(4) Final analysis – the need for judgment and intuition

Few if anybody could argue that the challenges to bringing a new technology to market are near overwhelming. To successfully navigate the journey must require intuition and good judgment. Moore himself concedes this when identifying the target at the other side of his chasm. Therefore, the irresistibility of his writing, whilst identifying the key decisions, may ‘gloss’ over the judgement required to achieve success at such moments.

Perhaps therefore to those embarking on such a journey, the Moore route map will educate the thought process and become an invaluable aid in navigation; this of course cannot be a substitute for an intuitive sense of direction.

Darren Maw
Naked Chasm Jumpers


The objective of this text is to summarise the key concepts which underpin Crossing the Chasm to provide a context to consider its key strengths and arguable limitations.

It is argued that whilst the text extracts and develops the practical and commercial value from the technology adoption life cycle, it nevertheless leaves key stages underdeveloped in respect of a new technology’s journey from brainwave to market saturation.

Key Concepts

From Fad to Market Saturation

The central theme developed by Moore is that to successfully bring a technology product to market and to achieve success in terms of market share, the hurdles that must be overcome can be mapped and understood. From this strategies can be distilled, some of which may be counter intuitive. Ignorance of these hurdles and strategies seal the fate of the failed launches of innovative technology and the success of the winning few.

Moore’s specific focus is discontinous innovations (i.e. innovations whose adoption by definition requires a significant change in behaviour of the user) and transitional stages along the technology adoption life cycle (fig.1).

Fig 1.

Moore plots the journey through the bell curve, pointing out that each segment of the curve possesses its own psychological and social characteristics (fig 2). In fact it is argued that the groups are distinguished precisely by their characteristic response to a discontinuous innovation based on new technology. This recognition of qualitative differences between the segments, Moore argues, requires a marketing strategy and selling proposition attune to the specific segment.

Fig 2.

The Chasm

Having developed the proposition that there are ‘cracks’ between the different segments of the bell curve, Moore points to the ‘chasm’ between early adopters and the early majority – visionaries and pragmatists. Moore relies upon his assertion that the pragmatists are by definition self referencing within their bell curve segment as giving rise to the chasm. They will only buy if other early majority players have bought (providing the comfort of an established market where ‘whole products’ are available – i.e. ancillary support and integration strategies), but the other referenced pragmatists will by definition display similar characteristics. Therefore to cross the chasm the obvious circularity of buyer behaviour amongst a self referencing group needs to be interrupted.

The Chasm walls

Moore uses a further tool to crystallise the nature of challenge faced when attempting to ‘cross the chasm’. The competitive-positioning compass (fig 3).

Fig 3.

Whilst at first blush this model seems perhaps impenetrable – when analysed sequentially it represents a further level of detail on his analysis of the technology production life cycle.


Therefore crossing the chasm challenges the company to (in some cases counter intuitively) move from a target customer segment occupied by visionaries to one occupied by pragmatists. It represents a move from a supportive but demanding (in terms of customisation) market to a sceptic but lucrative mainstream market who demand whole products (support and ancillary products) and a choice between competitors, i.e. an established market.

Therefore it is necessary, Moore argues to move from a product centric position to a market centric strategy. This may require tactical alliances (which are distinguished from strategic alliances – perhaps due to no more than over and misuse of the latter phrase). To Moore, the only reason to form a ‘tactical alliance’ is to accelerate the formation of the ‘whole product’, the key to developing share in mainstream market segment (i.e. the early majority).

The Chasm Crossing

Appreciating the transformation (or perhaps maturing) of the selling proposition is only one aspect of the crossing strategy. It is necessary to focus on a niche area with the sole objective of winning that market (as defined by Moore) over and driving out the competition. From here entry can be made into neighbouring niches as the product is adopted through the early majority mainstream market. Moore concedes that the decision as to which niche (or how to define the niche) is a matter for ‘informed intuition’ rather than ‘analytical’ decision making. Most companies fail, it is argued as they loose focus due the range of opportunities available. Once focussed on the niche (Moore provides a suggested approach to identifying this niche), then focus turns to making the buying (and not the selling) easier, resorting to well known business propositions aimed at distilling a clear selling proposition and easily digested reason to buy.

Darren Maw
Naked Chasm Jumpers

Monday, November 06, 2006

Geoffrey Moore - The Man Himself

Geoffrey has made the understanding and effective exploitation of disruptive technologies the core of his life's work. His books, Crossing the Chasm, Inside the Tornado, The Gorilla Game, and Living on the Fault Line are best sellers and required reading at leading business schools.

Highly regarded as a dynamic public speaker, Geoffrey is the founder of The Chasm Group and currently is the managing partner of TCG Advisors. Earlier in his career, he was a principal and partner at Regis McKenna, Inc., a leading high tech marketing strategy and communications company, and for the decade prior, a sales and marketing executive in the software industry.

Check out the full profile at this link:

First Blog on Naked Chasm Jumpers - Book Review.

If you need a copy of the "Crossing the Chasm" book by Geoffrey Moore - buy here: Crossing the Chasm Book