Early Adopters — What’s Hot Tomorrow? A Guest Post
Bill Tancer, the general manager of research at Hitwise and author of Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why it Matters, blogged here earlier this week about Internet trends and data. This is the last of three posts on the subject.
Internet behavioral data provides unprecedented insights as to how current events such as rising gas prices affect our online comparison-shopping activities. The prospect of predicting future behaviors is even more exciting. In my upcoming book, Click, I discuss one of the most promising areas of predictability — understanding product adoption and more specifically the online behavior of the early adopter.
In his book, Diffusion of Innovations, the late Everett Rogers provided us with a graphical representation (first a distribution curve, then an S curve) of how technological innovations spread through our society. The first segments to experiment with and then disseminate the latest in technology were named “innovators” and “early adopters.”
By segmenting our U.S. Internet sample into 50 Mosaic types and 66 Claritas Prizm segments (such as the Young Digerati, Money and Brains, and the Bohemian Mix), and examining the segmentation of key sites before they became extremely popular, we’ve identified the “early adopters” of today’s hit sites like YouTube and Facebook.
By searching through our list of over one million websites for what those segments are doing today, we can get a sense for what might be the next Internet blockbuster.
The Internet early adopter is actively using Google Docs and Spreadsheets (Bohemian Mix is over three times more likely to visit Google Docs versus the average Internet user), possibly indicating the attractiveness of server based productivity applications.
The early adopter is also showing signs of trying out alternate social networks like Google’s Orkut and relative newcomer PerfSpot.com.
But here’s a shocker: one of the top sites visited by early adopter segments is none other than the granddaddy of social nets, Friendster.
Founded in 2002, the once popular Friendster has all but faded into obscurity, currently ranking in position #368 amongst all Internet sites visited by U.S. Internet users.
Interestingly, Friendster made news this week with a fresh $20M investment from IDG Ventures and a new CEO, Richard Kimber, the former managing director of Google’s South Asia operations. The early adopter analysis screen that I described above was conducted using data for the four weeks ending July 26th 2008. Perhaps online early adopter segments are privy to the revival of Friendster.
Perhaps readers of this blog have a clue. Another site that ranked in the top 20 sites visited by online early adopters was Freakonomics.