Monday, 19 January 2009

Bleeding Edge No Place For Bleeding Hearts

You may have seen some of the bleating about Google's decision to retire some of its services that never hit the mainstream. Such whinging must be ignored, as to heed it only risks making the difficult process of innovation harder still.

Having been involved with internet start-ups since 1996, of course I subscribe to Geoffrey Moore's variation of the "Technology Adoption Life-cycle", that there's a "Chasm" between innovators/early adopters using a disruptive product, and successfully selling it to the early majority.

As an innovator or early adopter, you are out to get new stuff for free (or pay for it to be exclusive to you - thanks KM), and be ahead of the crowd. You love to show off the latest stuff and brag about how you were there at the beginning. And you definitely earn those bragging rights for putting up with the pain of participating in alpha- and beta-testing, the inevitable crashes and other technological mayhem. You understand that if you aren't protecting yourself against the failure of new technology you only have yourself to blame. Either you never let on there's a problem, or you wear the latest outage like a badge of honour. But if you whinge about it, then you aren't really an innovator or an early adopter, and you lose your bragging rights. You've become a member of the early majority - where new products with bugs or in beta-test (as opposed to new releases/upgrades) are not tolerated, and ongoing support is expected.

Similarly, if you're eager to sell your business to Google or some other behemoth in the hope that it will magically transport your "baby" across the chasm, then you're setting yourself up for intense disappointment. Even the big guys struggle to cross the chasm (which is why Microsoft waits patiently on the majority side). Until you've crossed there's still a ton of work to do, which is why they'll call one of the clauses in your sale and purchase agreement an "Earn Out".

The bleeding edge is no place for bleeding hearts.

Rant ends ;-)

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