There are 2 main ways newly incepted technologies become widely accepted and adopted by the general public:
- Assimilate & Grow Organically
- Accelerate by an Industry Catalyst
The inception and popularity of pen and paper grew organically in society with wide acceptance. However, seldom do people ask for a specific brand of pen or paper. In fact, as long as the pen writes and stays written, most users are satisfied. Even as Fisher spent millions inventing the Space Pen for practical usage in space, a very niche pursuit, this was still something that got accepted organically by the industry for everyday use due to its readily easiness for adoption and apparent necessity.
On the other hand, Apple in recent years has been catalyst to the acceptance of many new technologies – accelerating consumer adoption behaviors. Though Google and many other companies attempted to commercialize smartphone payments for years, it was not until recently when Apple introduced Apply Pay that such technology started to become more widely adopted. Same story can be told with smartwatches and wearable technologies. It was mainly due to the success of Fitbit and Jawbone Up that encouraged the public to be not only familiar with the concept of wearables, but to integrate them into people’s daily lives. Additionally, it was due to the hype generated by the Apple Watch that the word “smartwatch” started to become a household term, despite the fact that many others, such as Pebble and even Android Wear devices had been the first movers in the industry.
With Moore’s Law indicating that technology roughly doubles itself every 18 months, it still takes a considerable amount of time for technology to assimilate the innovators and early adopters before hitting the critical mass. By having a catalyst of innovation in the industry, such diffusion of innovation and acceptance of technology from concept to commerce will tend to accelerate. As a businessperson, it’s essential to fully recognize industry movements and identify potential emergent technologies, and determine whether to be the first mover or strategize to ride the waves of the catalyst of innovation.