We write about a lot of technologies around here that are little more than a glimmer in some mad scientist's eye, and it's usually going to be a while before you can go out and buy them. In between those two points, though, everything new has to undergo a "hype cycle," which ranges from wild excitement, to disillusionment, to (finally) productivity.
There are five stages to this cycle, which work as follows:
- Technology Trigger: something crazy. There's a scientific breakthrough that leads to some kind of ultra-futuristic proof-of-concept that promises future amazingness. DVICE writes about a lot of tech at this stage, but you can't go out at buy it.
- Peak of Inflated Expectations: riding on the initial wave of publicity, a number of companies take a stab at commercialization. Most of these stabs are failures for one reason or another.
- Trough of Disillusionment: enough companies fail to make the new technology work that investors get spooked, and the public perception starts to go negative. Early adopters willing to work at it may be able to make something promising out of it.
- Slope of Enlightenment: eventually, early adopter success leads to second and third generations of the technology, and now that most of the kinks are worked out, cautious optimism gradually returns.
- Plateau of Productivity: with working, refined implementations, the technology finally makes into mainstream adoption, with 20% to 30% of the target market giving it a try.
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Here at DVICE, we're probably a little bit more optimistic than these graphs are. Yeah, maybe things like wireless power are currently going over the hump from inflated expectations to disillusionment, but Internet TV? Cloud computing? Media tablets? We think those might be a bit closer (or even substantially closer) to productivity. We hope, at least.