The Blog

  • May 9, 2007
  • Early adopter blues?

    Is Web 2.0’s upside capped? by ZDNet‘s Larry Dignan — A report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project reveals Web 2.0 usage is limited to an elite group while half of Americans find technology annoying to some degree. The report dubbed "A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users (PDF, Techmeme discussion)" reveals that 31 percent of Americans are "Elite Tech Users." The […]

    If you want to know what’s going on in the Web 2.0 world check out this post from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.  It should surprise no one that Web 2.0 technologies — things like text messaging, electronic gadgets in general, instant messaging, music downloading and much more — are largely the province of a small percentage of tech savvy early adopters.  What’s interresting to me is that the data presented in this report is typical of early markets AND so is the implicit pessimism that adoption must increase or the movement will be stillborn.

    Of course!  That’s the way of the world in early markets.  Right now there’s a lot of technology out there that is more or less looking for something useful to do when it grows up.  And more to the point, we will soon discover, or we are already discovering, that some of this blizzard of technology will never reach the mass market but might do just fine in select small markets. 

    Only 15 percent of American adults are classified in this report as either "omnivores" or "connectors" i.e. people who really get use out of their devices while another 16 percent are very awaare and generally do tech cheerleading.  The rest?  They say they’re happy knowing there are more features on their devices than they know how to use and most of them agree somewhat with the contention that new devices in their lives need to come with human help to figure out how to set up and use.

    Blogs are a good example.  I forget how many blogs we have in the US but the number is beginning to mirror the number of cars per household and you just know that isn’t going to continue (as I write I even wonder who is going to read this). 

    In any event the market will do what markets are great at, namely figuring out what to keep and what to throw over the transom.  In this early stage there are a lot of Web 2.0/gadgets that look like they might serve useful purposes for communicating, organizing and helping make better decisions but as usual there is a user adoption issue standing between these gadgets and the companies that make them and mega profits.

    The more things change, the more they don’t.

    Published: 17 years ago


    • May 20th, 2007 at 9:46 am    

      Your points are well taken. However, my response to the alleged pundits who continually point to a fractional early adopter crowd and a near-term Web 2.0 ceiling is “who cares?” The Web 2.0 social media adoption is the first in the technology industry where the early adopters are not necessarily the ‘tech savvy’ or ‘risk takers’, but simply social customers who desire closer, more collaborative and more engaged relationships with their peers, business partners and vendors. While I think much of Pew’s research is excellent, Pew would be well advised to remind their readers that you cannot measure social media growth by the increase in the number of blogs.

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