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In 1991, management consultant and author Geoffrey A. Moore introduced the phrase “crossing the chasm” to the world of high-tech product marketing. His books “Crossing the Chasm” and “Inside the Tornado” subsequently became required reading in high-tech and not-so-high-tech companies alike.
The crossing-the-chasm buzz had its value: It provided a framework around which marketing action could coalesce. At the same time, it had the unfortunate consequence of emphasizing the product-adoption chasm —specifically, the gulf between early and mainstream markets — to the exclusion of five other, equally important chasms. All six chasms must be identified, understood and traversed if companies are to implement new technology successfully and achieve long-term success. (See “The Six Chasms.”)
The Chasm Within the Mind
In the fall of 1916, 25-year-old David Sarnoff, chief inspector of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. of America, penned a memo to the company’s vice president and general manager. As quoted in T. Lewis’ “Empire of the Air,” it read: “I have in mind a plan of development which would make radio a ‘household utility’ in the same sense as the piano or phonograph. … [A] radio telephone transmitter having a range of, say, 25 to 50 miles can be installed at a fixed point where the instrumental or vocal music or both are produced. … The receiver can be designed in the form of a simple ‘Radio Music Box’ and arranged for several different wavelengths.
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