One of the most interesting and useful presentations at ETel was not about telephony at all, except in the most general sense. Jeff Bonforte of Yahoo had to abandon his original presentation at the behest of his lawyers and instead gave an excellent discourse on understanding the emotions behind consumer adoption of new products. In an update of Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm, Bonforte called attention to the emotions behind the behavior of each segment of the adoption curve and gives them new names:
The Lovers (Innovators in Moore's lexicon) are the techies who buy the product because they find the technology intrinsically interesting. They can send misleading signals to the seller because their emotional response to technology is the opposite to that of the larger population. They look on solving tough technical problems as fun. This 3% of the market is likely to acquire product X through the "X Club."
The Irrational (Early Adopters) feel the same emotions are the general population, but feel them with more intensity. These are often negative emotions such as anger, fright, or loneliness. The strength of these feelings can lead to buying behavior that is not economically rational, such as installing Skype because one hates the phone company, The good news is that once the technology improves, ordinary people who feel the more moderate versions of the same emotions will also be motivated to buy. There are plenty of targets for these emotions, such as taxes, banks, telcos, health care providers, government services, airlines, lawyers, Microsoft, the opposite sex, and "The Man" so there is plenty of opportunity. This 22% is likely to purchase product X at The X and Y Store.
The Efficient (Early Majority) will purchase when the technology becomes practical. This 25% goes to Best Buy.
The Laughers (Late Majority) are Yahoo's core constituency. This 35% goes to Costco.
The Comfortable (Laggards) are the 15% who go to Walgreen's or Safeway because the Costco parking lot is too confusing.