The passionates vs. the non passionates

Every morning now I start out by reading FriendFeed. This morning there was a post by Steve Spalding called “the Web’s dirty little secret” which is about how small the audiences are here in the tech blogging world.

Back in May Dare Obasanjo wrote a post about early adopters and how software developers should discount them.

I’ve been doing a bunch of thinking about both of these things. How can entrepreneurs reach both passionate and non-passionate audiences? Do both matter? When? (Clearly crossing the chasm requires going from the passionates to the non-passionates, or the early adopters to the late ones, if you would rather use that lingo).

So, what’s this talk about passionates vs. non-passionates?

Well, one thing I’ve learned over and over is that you can build an interesting business if you have 100,000 people passionate about something. Anything. I used to be an associate editor at a magazine about Visual Basic back in the 1990s. We had millions of dollars in revenue and our distribution was 110,000 copies. That launched conferences and all sorts of things that made money and brought in revenue. Life was good for a while.

On the other hand, if you pick a business model that requires huge numbers of people, like Facebook advertising that might only pay $.25 per 1,000 views, then you gotta go big or go home. How do you do that, though? I wish I knew, cause most companies who try doing that go under before they can acquire enough customers. Passionate users are easier to get than non-passionate ones. It’s why Amazon and Google don’t do much advertising. Reaching the non-passionates is very hard and they’ve decided to just invest in making a better product, reaching through the passionates to the larger audience. Other companies, though, feel they can convince the non-passionates and advertise heavily. Lifelock is a good example of that. Lifelock isn’t something I ever see bloggers or Twitterers talking about, but the company is constantly advertising that product and, from what I hear, raking in big revenues.

Same happens on the Web. People who can build audiences of the 100,000 size can build decent businesses on the Web. Just talk to Gary Vaynerchuk, who does WineLibrary.tv. He has audiences of 60,000 to 100,000 watching each show.

Getting to 100,000 engaged users is reasonably easy to do pretty quickly. But the VCs are needing companies that have 10s of millions. iLike, in Seattle, for instance, is touted by Facebook as one of their favorite applications, which got to 30 million users in a very short time. I remember meeting founder Hadi Partovi shortly after they started right around the time I left Microsoft and they didn’t have a single user. How did they get so big so fast? They had a great app that was out on the first day of Facebook’s new app platform launch (took many sleepless nights to develop that app and then keep it up as it got to six million users in the first few weeks after launch).

Even with iLike, though, I bet that most of its users are passionate about music. 30 million users is a drop in the bucket compared to people who listen to music around the world. Convincing non-passionate users to try something is really difficult.

Some things that I’ve noticed about late adopters (er, non-passionates) and how they use computers they really are much different than the passionates who I usually hang out with. They really don’t care about 99% of the things I care about. FriendFeed? Yeah, right, they haven’t even heard of it, and if I try telling them about it, they say “why would I do that?” See, most people just want to work their 9 to 5 jobs, go home, pop open a beer, sit on the couch, watch some movies, play with their kids, etc.

Stay up all night talking to strangers? No way, no how. Most of the non-passionates I know are just barely trying out Facebook (90 million users). Twitter? Yeah, right. (Two million).

Heck, these people don’t even know how to use an address bar in a browser. Think I’m kidding? I’ve watched how normal people (er, non-passionates) use computers. You go to a search box, and type “Yahoo” even if you are already on Yahoo. Think I’m kidding? Ask the engineers over at Yahoo how many times a day people search for Yahoo on Yahoo’s own search engine. Same over at Google.

When I travel, I look at what people use — thanks to being on planes a lot in the past few months I get to see what people use. Most are using technology I used back in 2000. That’s eight years ago, or 100 in Internet years. I look at them the same way you’d look at them if they told you they just started using a telephone.

The exception? Blackberry. But show me a Blackberry user that knows how to look up Google Maps or uses the Web more than once a week? I’ll show you a passionate. I’ve talked to hundreds of people in airports and I haven’t found a Web-using Blackberry user yet that’s not a passionate (meaning, someone who is really passionate about technology).

And let’s not forget the fact that of the six to seven billion people in the world only about a billion even have a computer in the first place. So, that means that five to six billion people really don’t care about Windows or OSX or all that.

We can be so arrogant sometimes to forget that there are more people who are NOT like us, than who are like us in the technology world.

That said, is Dare Obasanjo correct? Should new companies ignore early adopters?

No, and no.

If Bill Gates had done that Dare would not be working at Microsoft today. Microsoft TOTALLY served the passionates for the first decade of life. Heck, its first product was a compiler!

Early adopters are the ones who will adopt your product or service without you spending hundreds of dollars to get them to try it.

A Kraft food executive once told me they spend about $40 just to get a new customer. Think about that. For FOOD!!! Something that we all need to survive!!!

So, if you want to build a profitable business with very few resources you MUST forget about the non-passionates. They won’t adopt your product unless you are lucky enough to be something like iLike. And even then your chances are pretty slim. I remember when Buzz Bruggeman, CEO of ActiveWords, had a great review in USA Today and only got 40 downloads of his product. You think their ads are going to work any better? No, and no and no. Give it up, the non-passionates will probably never adopt your product and if you get them, it’s probably through some very good luck (iLike couldn’t happen if it were launched today, they needed the Facebook paradigm shift to happen for them to be successful).

So, where do we go from here? I don’t know, I’m doing a lot of work to find out how the tech industry can reach more of the non-passionates. There aren’t a lot of easy answers.

Some tips for getting seen by more people, passionate OR non-passionate.

  1. Believe it or not, Valleywag has a great one. Make your page load faster! It’s amazing to me when I find a blog that doesn’t load fast.
  2. Make it work great on mobile phones. So many blogs load slow on even my new 3G iPhone. Mashable, I’m looking at you.
  3. Get more celebrities that the non-passionates care about to use our technology. I remember when one of MySpace’s founders told me that’s how they got to be the biggest social network in the world. They got musicians and others in Los Angeles to use their service. That led to the non-passionates joining up (my brother’s bar is on MySpace and he’s definitely a non-passionate). Kyte.tv’s CEO tells me that getting 50 Cent to use his product was a sizeable breakthrough.
  4. Make your blog easier to find by Google. Normal, non-passionate users use search engines (mostly Google, according to my friends who study such things). Here, do a search for “blog commenting systems.” Why does Disqus come up first? Why isn’t JS-Kit or Intense Debate even on the home page? (Other than in a TechCrunch article?) If we want to grow our audiences we’ve got to be better about appearing in Google.
  5. Write more well-thought-out posts. My traffic has been going up in the past few weeks because I started writing longer posts, again, and getting off of the PR treadmill of trying to just cover every PR story out there. Louis Gray is seeing the same trends, because he’s been doing longer “thought pieces” instead of just writing about the latest shiny object.
  6. Get the advice of other people who have large audiences. This was Tim Ferriss’ advice after our cameras were off when he was on WorkFast.TV recently — he wrote the Four Hour Workweek. He said to look at last year’s hit book author and call them up (if they are hot right now they probably won’t have time to talk with you in depth, he said).
  7. Carry a video camera everywhere to get those cool little stories. Why? Check out this story from the Knoxville News Sentinel.
  8. Register your blog on FriendFeed. Many bloggers are noticing they are getting pretty sizeable traffic from FriendFeed. Why? Because that’s where a lot of passionates are now spending their time and they are the ones who are likely toclick on links, try things out, talk about them with other people, etc.

What am I doing? Well, I’m trying to point my camera at people outside of the tech world, but who are influencers in their own circles. Like today’s video of Tim Ryan, congressman, who also Twitters. As everyday people hear more stories about how the new technology is being used by innovators, they are much more likely to try it out themselves.

So, how are you getting non-passionates to try your stuff out? What is working out there? Do you even care? Or do you care more about reaching passionates? And, if so, what’s working for you?

Comments

  1. Brilliant post, love that you’re doing long articles again. Nice one about the address bar in a browser, watching people use browsers sometimes can be an eye opening experience!

  2. Brilliant post, love that you’re doing long articles again. Nice one about the address bar in a browser, watching people use browsers sometimes can be an eye opening experience!

  3. I’ve been working on a web 2.0 community and news portal for Croatian webmasters lately and they are by default the passionates. So the question you asked makes no sense in my case as I believe there is no non-passionates among webmasters. However if I were doing some other sort of more general population targeting service, I’d probably try to market the service to passionates. I believe I watched an video from the TED conference where Seth Godine was talking about this topic and hes advice was to market our product to the people that do care and that they will spread the word to the general population :)

  4. I’ve been working on a web 2.0 community and news portal for Croatian webmasters lately and they are by default the passionates. So the question you asked makes no sense in my case as I believe there is no non-passionates among webmasters. However if I were doing some other sort of more general population targeting service, I’d probably try to market the service to passionates. I believe I watched an video from the TED conference where Seth Godine was talking about this topic and hes advice was to market our product to the people that do care and that they will spread the word to the general population :)

  5. Good post Robert – I like thoughtful posts, really am tired of most of the short, no brain posts a lot have gotten into.

  6. Good post Robert – I like thoughtful posts, really am tired of most of the short, no brain posts a lot have gotten into.

  7. Interesting post, but I wonder if the better classification is educated versus uneducated, instead of passionate versus non-passionate.

    Early adopters tend to be mavens, people who are passionate about acquiring and sharing knowledge. That zest for learning drives them to seek out and explore the application of all sorts of products, services and technologies. Their passion isn’t just about the content area (tech), it’s about the entire process of ferreting, learning and sharing.

    So, how do you get those without a similar bent to want to know what you know and use what you use? Step into their shoes and ask the “what’s in it for me?” question. Brainstorm ways to show them how it solves a problem, eases a pain and does it bigger, better and faster than anything they currently use.

    You can’t get people passionate about something by explaining why it’s so cool to “you.” You’ve got to explain why it’s so cool to “them.” Then, make the process of learning about and adopting your product, service or technology so dummy-proof, there’s literally no justification NOT to adopt it.

    Kapish?

  8. Interesting post, but I wonder if the better classification is educated versus uneducated, instead of passionate versus non-passionate.

    Early adopters tend to be mavens, people who are passionate about acquiring and sharing knowledge. That zest for learning drives them to seek out and explore the application of all sorts of products, services and technologies. Their passion isn’t just about the content area (tech), it’s about the entire process of ferreting, learning and sharing.

    So, how do you get those without a similar bent to want to know what you know and use what you use? Step into their shoes and ask the “what’s in it for me?” question. Brainstorm ways to show them how it solves a problem, eases a pain and does it bigger, better and faster than anything they currently use.

    You can’t get people passionate about something by explaining why it’s so cool to “you.” You’ve got to explain why it’s so cool to “them.” Then, make the process of learning about and adopting your product, service or technology so dummy-proof, there’s literally no justification NOT to adopt it.

    Kapish?

  9. Scoble, I’m not sure what has gotten into your water lately but I want some. It seems that in the last two weeks, your entire attitude has changed for the better. I really appreciate the new stuff.

  10. Scoble, I’m not sure what has gotten into your water lately but I want some. It seems that in the last two weeks, your entire attitude has changed for the better. I really appreciate the new stuff.

  11. Robert
    Excellent post. This is part of what I was writing about in this post, which I was hoping you’d look at and comment on: http://blog.spot.us/2008/07/29/the-blogosphere-needs-to-mature-how/

    Of course – I’m looking at content creators, not just tech. But in that world right now you need millions of eyeballs in order to monetize something and make it profitable. What I’m trying to figure out is whether or not you can get a smaller (but passionate) audience to fit the bill themselves.

    I’m not sure if it can work – but it’s certainly worth a shot.

  12. Robert
    Excellent post. This is part of what I was writing about in this post, which I was hoping you’d look at and comment on: http://blog.spot.us/2008/07/29/the-blogosphere-needs-to-mature-how/

    Of course – I’m looking at content creators, not just tech. But in that world right now you need millions of eyeballs in order to monetize something and make it profitable. What I’m trying to figure out is whether or not you can get a smaller (but passionate) audience to fit the bill themselves.

    I’m not sure if it can work – but it’s certainly worth a shot.

  13. Great post Robert, your return to your blogging roots has made this blog so refreshing to read!

    Honestly I think that for entirely new innovations (the web, Twitter, FriendFeed), a lot of this comes down to age. Early adopter, passionate personalities can be of any age, but mass adoption by the non-passionate sorts happens in our high schools and college campuses. Older non-passionates generally don’t adopt until the rest of the world pulls them into it. I think we as innovators just need to recognize this reality and plan our start-ups accordingly.

  14. Great post Robert, your return to your blogging roots has made this blog so refreshing to read!

    Honestly I think that for entirely new innovations (the web, Twitter, FriendFeed), a lot of this comes down to age. Early adopter, passionate personalities can be of any age, but mass adoption by the non-passionate sorts happens in our high schools and college campuses. Older non-passionates generally don’t adopt until the rest of the world pulls them into it. I think we as innovators just need to recognize this reality and plan our start-ups accordingly.

  15. Good post Robert, but I’ll take exception to one comment you make: “Getting to 100,000 engaged users is reasonably easy to do pretty quickly.” This is really not true at all. In fact, getting 10,000 engaged users isn’t “reasonably easy” to do.

    While I agree it’s “straightforward”, it’s certainly not easy, and especially not for those who haven’t done it before.

  16. Good post Robert, but I’ll take exception to one comment you make: “Getting to 100,000 engaged users is reasonably easy to do pretty quickly.” This is really not true at all. In fact, getting 10,000 engaged users isn’t “reasonably easy” to do.

    While I agree it’s “straightforward”, it’s certainly not easy, and especially not for those who haven’t done it before.

  17. Greg: I think it all happened when I started to stop reading Techmeme, actually, and started getting more involved in FriendFeed. Took me a while. Also, someone I know who is 32 just found out he needs a bone marrow transfusion or he’ll die in a few months and that got me off my behind.

  18. Greg: I think it all happened when I started to stop reading Techmeme, actually, and started getting more involved in FriendFeed. Took me a while. Also, someone I know who is 32 just found out he needs a bone marrow transfusion or he’ll die in a few months and that got me off my behind.

  19. I find “non-passionate” to be obnoxious. Why don’t you just say “lazy” and be clear about it. And then lumping in everybody in the world who doesn’t use friendfeed or whatever the latest ego amplification device is with people who type yahoo into the search-bar is really obnoxious. I’ve met lots of people who couldn’t care less about the latest thing out of the valley because they have demanding jobs that draws all their passion into it. I’ve met medical researchers and doctors and university professors who do lack computer skills, but guess what, thats because their jobs suck up all their passion, and rightly so. Yet you also find that they’re often experts at software that actually helps them in their job (and usually that software is clunky, and old and not very easy to use – yet somehow they manage to make it work for them, whereas if you put a 25-year old web 2.0 whiz in front of it, they’d whine about the interface and give up in ten minutes)

    I think today’s earthquake provides a great example. While the chattering classes are all agog over how great twitter is in disseminating news, the real heroes are the people who built the USGS service – they’re most likely “non-passionate” users who are underpaid and overworked civil servants who get no real credit at all. In fact I’ve never met an American who didn’t use the civil service as anything but the butt of jokes (and that includes you).

  20. I find “non-passionate” to be obnoxious. Why don’t you just say “lazy” and be clear about it. And then lumping in everybody in the world who doesn’t use friendfeed or whatever the latest ego amplification device is with people who type yahoo into the search-bar is really obnoxious. I’ve met lots of people who couldn’t care less about the latest thing out of the valley because they have demanding jobs that draws all their passion into it. I’ve met medical researchers and doctors and university professors who do lack computer skills, but guess what, thats because their jobs suck up all their passion, and rightly so. Yet you also find that they’re often experts at software that actually helps them in their job (and usually that software is clunky, and old and not very easy to use – yet somehow they manage to make it work for them, whereas if you put a 25-year old web 2.0 whiz in front of it, they’d whine about the interface and give up in ten minutes)

    I think today’s earthquake provides a great example. While the chattering classes are all agog over how great twitter is in disseminating news, the real heroes are the people who built the USGS service – they’re most likely “non-passionate” users who are underpaid and overworked civil servants who get no real credit at all. In fact I’ve never met an American who didn’t use the civil service as anything but the butt of jokes (and that includes you).

  21. Owen: no, they aren’t lazy at all. My brother works harder than most people I do at keeping his bar going. But he just isn’t passionate about technology. He couldn’t care other than how to use it help him run his bar. He isn’t like me, isn’t willing to try every latest thing. He’ll use it after everyone else does. He’s a “non passionate” and that’s not obnoxious. If you think it’s obnoxious, then come up with a better term, but “lazy” doesn’t fit, in my experience.

    And I’ve never made jokes about civil service workers. Please find me a quote on that.

  22. Owen: no, they aren’t lazy at all. My brother works harder than most people I do at keeping his bar going. But he just isn’t passionate about technology. He couldn’t care other than how to use it help him run his bar. He isn’t like me, isn’t willing to try every latest thing. He’ll use it after everyone else does. He’s a “non passionate” and that’s not obnoxious. If you think it’s obnoxious, then come up with a better term, but “lazy” doesn’t fit, in my experience.

    And I’ve never made jokes about civil service workers. Please find me a quote on that.

  23. Great post, Robert. I appreciate your taking the time to highlight the move back toward more thoughtful posts. This is the first time I have been to your blog (although I have been following you on Twitter, Friendfeed, etc. for a long time). Why? (1) The title of this post really caught my eye (2) very thoughtful and personal.

    Stagekid’s Dissertation on Disillusionment: http://www.stagekid.com

  24. Great post, Robert. I appreciate your taking the time to highlight the move back toward more thoughtful posts. This is the first time I have been to your blog (although I have been following you on Twitter, Friendfeed, etc. for a long time). Why? (1) The title of this post really caught my eye (2) very thoughtful and personal.

    Stagekid’s Dissertation on Disillusionment: http://www.stagekid.com

  25. Bravos, Robert! Good post.

    Allow me to introduce another pov.

    Referring to users as either passionate or non-passionate is perhaps a fine start but not enough. Please permit me to explain.

    The first step is to convert the non-user to a user. Our goal is to induce trial, get that first visit. Once we get that first visit we need to give them reasons to come back, reasons to stay longer and reasons to tell others about us. At this stage we are fighting for share of browser. How do we graduate from being one of the search engines they use to their favorite search engine, how do we become their first preference, the one they go to first and the most?

    All of our ventures depend on converting users to heavy users. From people who think we are kinda ok to people who think we are the best there is?

    My sense is the solution set involves being dramatically different. The guys that stop wasting time getting better and start putting all of their resources into getting different are the guys that stand out, the guys that get the attention that being different brings.

    FriendFeed created a market. It’s different. For me last summer was Twitter, this summer it’s FriendFeed that’s on. Twitter might be trying to get better in some incremental ways I don’t know, can’t see it if they are but I can see that FriendFeed is obviously different.

    Robert, you’re different. The guy running around with a camera streaming from a cell phone on the floor of CES. Different? You bet. We come to expect different from you. One day you’re sitting at a table doing a talking head thing and the next your outside the gates of 1600 Penn Ave.

    How do we get the great unwashed to get excited about tech?

    We make tech transparent.

    Once they no longer have to think, once they get the user benefit, once they come to understand what’s in it for them, we got a user.

    The challenge is to convert the user to the heavy user. That’s the juice.

    How do we convert the non-user to user?

    Be so good, so different, you can’t be ignored. Deliver a game-changing experience. ES at Google had a great line when he was on Charlie Rose some time ago. The goal at Google is to return not a page of results but the exact one result you were looking for and do that 100% of the time. We can all agree that’s a wee bit over the top, right? Or is it?

    Love your blog, man.

  26. Bravos, Robert! Good post.

    Allow me to introduce another pov.

    Referring to users as either passionate or non-passionate is perhaps a fine start but not enough. Please permit me to explain.

    The first step is to convert the non-user to a user. Our goal is to induce trial, get that first visit. Once we get that first visit we need to give them reasons to come back, reasons to stay longer and reasons to tell others about us. At this stage we are fighting for share of browser. How do we graduate from being one of the search engines they use to their favorite search engine, how do we become their first preference, the one they go to first and the most?

    All of our ventures depend on converting users to heavy users. From people who think we are kinda ok to people who think we are the best there is?

    My sense is the solution set involves being dramatically different. The guys that stop wasting time getting better and start putting all of their resources into getting different are the guys that stand out, the guys that get the attention that being different brings.

    FriendFeed created a market. It’s different. For me last summer was Twitter, this summer it’s FriendFeed that’s on. Twitter might be trying to get better in some incremental ways I don’t know, can’t see it if they are but I can see that FriendFeed is obviously different.

    Robert, you’re different. The guy running around with a camera streaming from a cell phone on the floor of CES. Different? You bet. We come to expect different from you. One day you’re sitting at a table doing a talking head thing and the next your outside the gates of 1600 Penn Ave.

    How do we get the great unwashed to get excited about tech?

    We make tech transparent.

    Once they no longer have to think, once they get the user benefit, once they come to understand what’s in it for them, we got a user.

    The challenge is to convert the user to the heavy user. That’s the juice.

    How do we convert the non-user to user?

    Be so good, so different, you can’t be ignored. Deliver a game-changing experience. ES at Google had a great line when he was on Charlie Rose some time ago. The goal at Google is to return not a page of results but the exact one result you were looking for and do that 100% of the time. We can all agree that’s a wee bit over the top, right? Or is it?

    Love your blog, man.

  27. Robert, I’ve heard you say “good enough for government work” in person. I find “non passionate” to be pejorative.

  28. Nice post, you’re getting the groove back.

    One thing to observe in comments here and going forward, is where the traces of elitism and classism will raise its ugly head. For example, the commenters above re: “Educated and Un-Educated” and also the remark from another about “non passionate = lazy”… we’ve seen this first-hand with MySpace hating.. oh yeah, there are plenty of tech things wrong with it, but I don’t believe for a minute those that hate it do it without a sense of superiority or air of ‘I’m better than those blingtards”.

    All we need to do is just mitigate that thinking and work around it. :)

  29. Nice post, you’re getting the groove back.

    One thing to observe in comments here and going forward, is where the traces of elitism and classism will raise its ugly head. For example, the commenters above re: “Educated and Un-Educated” and also the remark from another about “non passionate = lazy”… we’ve seen this first-hand with MySpace hating.. oh yeah, there are plenty of tech things wrong with it, but I don’t believe for a minute those that hate it do it without a sense of superiority or air of ‘I’m better than those blingtards”.

    All we need to do is just mitigate that thinking and work around it. :)

  30. I’m gonna apologize for the cheap shot about civil servants – “Non-passionate” made me angry. Going forward though, I’m gonna think of early adopters and late adopters as “naive” and “skeptic” because I think that it fits just as well.

  31. I’m gonna apologize for the cheap shot about civil servants – “Non-passionate” made me angry. Going forward though, I’m gonna think of early adopters and late adopters as “naive” and “skeptic” because I think that it fits just as well.

  32. Sheesh – the clear example came forth in the comments. You can see the way the “tech-literati” view the rest of those keeping this whole friggin’ world afloat by labeling ‘em all “lazy” and “uneducated”. Yikes! So, those not using all the crap one can find on the internet are lazy, uneducated, NASCAR lovin’ moron freaks, right?

    You people need to grow up, now.

    Thank you, Robert, for using passionate and non-passionate. I believe that that hits the mark.

    And, in case those of you out there think I’m some noob, I’ve been in this industry for a very long while … I remember Microsoft’s first products … I released products on Sun2 and Sequent, SCO (yeah, i said it!), iABI and some other machines you’d just rather forget (like the old battle-wagon the RS600 or the true X-Windows systems) … so, yeah, I’M FRIGGIN’ PASSIONATE … but my family, those I love, and many of my close friends, are far too busy LIVING than to get all soaked up in what I enjoy.

    I’m a freak — and passionate … so there … :)

    (thanks again, robert for a label that is simple and non-threatening. and best to your friend from my family with regards to the life threatening illness, and God Bless!)

  33. Sheesh – the clear example came forth in the comments. You can see the way the “tech-literati” view the rest of those keeping this whole friggin’ world afloat by labeling ‘em all “lazy” and “uneducated”. Yikes! So, those not using all the crap one can find on the internet are lazy, uneducated, NASCAR lovin’ moron freaks, right?

    You people need to grow up, now.

    Thank you, Robert, for using passionate and non-passionate. I believe that that hits the mark.

    And, in case those of you out there think I’m some noob, I’ve been in this industry for a very long while … I remember Microsoft’s first products … I released products on Sun2 and Sequent, SCO (yeah, i said it!), iABI and some other machines you’d just rather forget (like the old battle-wagon the RS600 or the true X-Windows systems) … so, yeah, I’M FRIGGIN’ PASSIONATE … but my family, those I love, and many of my close friends, are far too busy LIVING than to get all soaked up in what I enjoy.

    I’m a freak — and passionate … so there … :)

    (thanks again, robert for a label that is simple and non-threatening. and best to your friend from my family with regards to the life threatening illness, and God Bless!)

  34. My last comment got eaten by (presumably) Akismet, presumably because I had a link in it… So I’m going to try again.

    Just to continue to annoy, I’d also like to point out that Microsoft’s first product wasn’t a compiler, it was an interpreter ;-).

  35. My last comment got eaten by (presumably) Akismet, presumably because I had a link in it… So I’m going to try again.

    Just to continue to annoy, I’d also like to point out that Microsoft’s first product wasn’t a compiler, it was an interpreter ;-).

  36. Nice and interesting post Robert, though I agree with Owen that “non-passionate” may confuse issues surrounding mainstream vs small audiences. You have written a lot about engagement and clearly this is a key concept as we move forward. Where facebook offers advertisers a lot of almost worthless views while highly targeted sites may be much more effective by a factor of 10 or even 100 times.

  37. Nice and interesting post Robert, though I agree with Owen that “non-passionate” may confuse issues surrounding mainstream vs small audiences. You have written a lot about engagement and clearly this is a key concept as we move forward. Where facebook offers advertisers a lot of almost worthless views while highly targeted sites may be much more effective by a factor of 10 or even 100 times.

  38. love this post Robert :)

    THAT is the Passion I remember when I met you back at the SDForum Visual Basic SIG in ’95… and I STILL love your Fire!

    awesome, awesome, awesome.

    Scobleizer++

  39. love this post Robert :)

    THAT is the Passion I remember when I met you back at the SDForum Visual Basic SIG in ’95… and I STILL love your Fire!

    awesome, awesome, awesome.

    Scobleizer++

  40. I enjoyed reading this post, Scobe. Funny that you mentioned bringing celebrities into the mix. It was brought up in FF today that folks are noticing more and more non-techy chatter. My comment on that was A) about freakin’ time, and 2) FF will start exploding when celebrity gossip columnists or pop stars start using it…the dishers or dishies of pop “dirt.”

    For my own part, although I’m as much a tech geek as many others already using the toolz I’m working to keep my FF stream as organic as real world as possible. Ready and waiting for mainstream folks to find me.

    Keep it up, commander.

  41. I enjoyed reading this post, Scobe. Funny that you mentioned bringing celebrities into the mix. It was brought up in FF today that folks are noticing more and more non-techy chatter. My comment on that was A) about freakin’ time, and 2) FF will start exploding when celebrity gossip columnists or pop stars start using it…the dishers or dishies of pop “dirt.”

    For my own part, although I’m as much a tech geek as many others already using the toolz I’m working to keep my FF stream as organic as real world as possible. Ready and waiting for mainstream folks to find me.

    Keep it up, commander.

  42. People are passionate about what they love. Believe or not, there are hundreds of millions of people that aren’t passionate about technology. But that doesn;t stop them from being productive or satisfied. They are level headed enough to see it merely as a tool to accomplish something. You say you see people that don’t know how to use an address bar in a browser. So what? As long as they eventually get what they wanted out of using the browser, why does it matter?

    Lemme ask you this: What would be the best defense to call if you suspected the football team you were playing called TRIPS Left Y ZOOM 219 H Swing? Didnt think so. And neither would the majority of passoinate football fans. Hell, the majority don’t recognize a Cover 2 defense. Should NFL players think them non-passionate?

    You SV types, more often than not, write software for yourselves, then get frustrated when the average Joe doesn’t care about or see the value in your product. Now, go our and write somethign that actually solves a real problems. More often than not, the stuff coming out of SV lately are solutoins looking for problems; answers to questions no one is asking.

    I was in the hospital recently for an operation. I can tell you the software and hardware used during the procedure makes the people that wrote Twitter and FriendFeed look like they did a grade school science project. Moreover, the doctor didn’t care how the software worked or how it was built, he just cared that he had a better tool to do his job. And thank God he was passionate about his job.

    Finally, I don’t know the crowd you fly with, but when I fly I see less and less use of laptops, etc, and more use of iPods,PSP’s, Gameboys, and….this willl probably absolutely blow your mind….people reading these things called “books”

  43. People are passionate about what they love. Believe or not, there are hundreds of millions of people that aren’t passionate about technology. But that doesn;t stop them from being productive or satisfied. They are level headed enough to see it merely as a tool to accomplish something. You say you see people that don’t know how to use an address bar in a browser. So what? As long as they eventually get what they wanted out of using the browser, why does it matter?

    Lemme ask you this: What would be the best defense to call if you suspected the football team you were playing called TRIPS Left Y ZOOM 219 H Swing? Didnt think so. And neither would the majority of passoinate football fans. Hell, the majority don’t recognize a Cover 2 defense. Should NFL players think them non-passionate?

    You SV types, more often than not, write software for yourselves, then get frustrated when the average Joe doesn’t care about or see the value in your product. Now, go our and write somethign that actually solves a real problems. More often than not, the stuff coming out of SV lately are solutoins looking for problems; answers to questions no one is asking.

    I was in the hospital recently for an operation. I can tell you the software and hardware used during the procedure makes the people that wrote Twitter and FriendFeed look like they did a grade school science project. Moreover, the doctor didn’t care how the software worked or how it was built, he just cared that he had a better tool to do his job. And thank God he was passionate about his job.

    Finally, I don’t know the crowd you fly with, but when I fly I see less and less use of laptops, etc, and more use of iPods,PSP’s, Gameboys, and….this willl probably absolutely blow your mind….people reading these things called “books”

  44. (Ironic that it wasn’t that long ago that you were defending noise here.)

    I definitely prefer the ‘thought-out’ posts to the ‘oh-my-god-that’s-so-cool-what-use-is-it’ ones. Keep it up.

  45. (Ironic that it wasn’t that long ago that you were defending noise here.)

    I definitely prefer the ‘thought-out’ posts to the ‘oh-my-god-that’s-so-cool-what-use-is-it’ ones. Keep it up.

  46. Hi Robert

    Thats true. Build an application that works for your parents is the most easiest way to get around the problem of building up a peace of nerdy cake for geeks.
    The difference between those people and the most of the twitter geeks is, that they start using a technology if they are really in need of it and don’t see the perspective to use the old way. Thats even the reason why its so hard to start something new.

    There are a lot of usability tests around big websites and “normal” not geek customers, where 99 percent of the people who would be in the position to watch the tests, would be suprised about a) how long people look for something on a website and b) how careful they are to click on something that they are not used to.
    I can advice anyone to look at it, before building up websites and apps.

    Best, Jens

  47. Hi Robert

    Thats true. Build an application that works for your parents is the most easiest way to get around the problem of building up a peace of nerdy cake for geeks.
    The difference between those people and the most of the twitter geeks is, that they start using a technology if they are really in need of it and don’t see the perspective to use the old way. Thats even the reason why its so hard to start something new.

    There are a lot of usability tests around big websites and “normal” not geek customers, where 99 percent of the people who would be in the position to watch the tests, would be suprised about a) how long people look for something on a website and b) how careful they are to click on something that they are not used to.
    I can advice anyone to look at it, before building up websites and apps.

    Best, Jens

  48. Good post, Robert, which puts back in perspective the relative (small) scale – but also its importance as a catalyst – of the (micro-) blogging world and it’s inhabitants ;)

  49. Good post, Robert, which puts back in perspective the relative (small) scale – but also its importance as a catalyst – of the (micro-) blogging world and it’s inhabitants ;)

  50. Pointing cameras at people who Twitter, as an example of someone “outside” of the bubble? Does not compute. You might, say, point cameras, say, maybe, for example, at people, for which there is no ‘techie’ angle, maybe, yes? And you seemingly haven’t met many of the people, to which a Blackberry is a curse, any number of which easily outnumber the die-hards. And “people in airports”, itself, is becoming a segmented market.

    Activewords is a buggy pile of spew, that needs a serious rewrite and a new UI, it be not mass market ready by any stretch of the imagination, nor does the product fulfill a mainstream need, as such, your old and tired example, is wholly moot, as the early adopters are the only market that will ever find a need or deal with all the numerous glitches.

    But this is a pointlessly circular argument, you design your product for ALL markets, some for power, some for basic, some for luxury, some for entry level. Common sense, knock knock. And if you want to keep the brand status, you break it off, give until Kenneth Cole what is Cole’s, and unto Reaction what is Reaction’s. Freshman High School Economics taught me that much.

  51. Pointing cameras at people who Twitter, as an example of someone “outside” of the bubble? Does not compute. You might, say, point cameras, say, maybe, for example, at people, for which there is no ‘techie’ angle, maybe, yes? And you seemingly haven’t met many of the people, to which a Blackberry is a curse, any number of which easily outnumber the die-hards. And “people in airports”, itself, is becoming a segmented market.

    Activewords is a buggy pile of spew, that needs a serious rewrite and a new UI, it be not mass market ready by any stretch of the imagination, nor does the product fulfill a mainstream need, as such, your old and tired example, is wholly moot, as the early adopters are the only market that will ever find a need or deal with all the numerous glitches.

    But this is a pointlessly circular argument, you design your product for ALL markets, some for power, some for basic, some for luxury, some for entry level. Common sense, knock knock. And if you want to keep the brand status, you break it off, give until Kenneth Cole what is Cole’s, and unto Reaction what is Reaction’s. Freshman High School Economics taught me that much.

  52. Great post Robert. I didn’t used to visit your blog much but am not due to these “longer thought pieces.” Same with Louis’ blog.

    With 20-50 blogs guaranteed to write about any new electronic toy / software what new insights can any mortal (you are still mortal right?) blogger expect to add.

    Striking out to (relatively) less traveled territory is much more interesting.

  53. Great post Robert. I didn’t used to visit your blog much but am not due to these “longer thought pieces.” Same with Louis’ blog.

    With 20-50 blogs guaranteed to write about any new electronic toy / software what new insights can any mortal (you are still mortal right?) blogger expect to add.

    Striking out to (relatively) less traveled territory is much more interesting.

  54. :: Also, someone I know who is 32 just found out he needs a bone marrow transfusion or he’ll die in a few months and that got me off my behind. ::

    Robert,

    I am not well versed in bone marrow transfusion, but I think that the largest problem is finding a match. How about using your medium and large audience to help find a match? I will be the first volunteer to test. Just let me know what I need to do.

  55. :: Also, someone I know who is 32 just found out he needs a bone marrow transfusion or he’ll die in a few months and that got me off my behind. ::

    Robert,

    I am not well versed in bone marrow transfusion, but I think that the largest problem is finding a match. How about using your medium and large audience to help find a match? I will be the first volunteer to test. Just let me know what I need to do.

  56. You couldnt be more right about the passionates. I stopped asking how could I dev a better social network that reached everybody… but one that served what the passionates wanted in areas where no networks exist! This post gives that approach some validation and reminds me about who I am really trying to reach! Many thanks

  57. You couldnt be more right about the passionates. I stopped asking how could I dev a better social network that reached everybody… but one that served what the passionates wanted in areas where no networks exist! This post gives that approach some validation and reminds me about who I am really trying to reach! Many thanks

  58. Robert, your characterization of Dare Obasanjo’s post is completely incorrect. He never said “new companies [should] ignore early adopters…” Instead, he pointed out, correctly, that “the needs of early adopters and those of the majority of your potential user base differ significantly.”

    By mischaracterizing his central argument, you undercut your argument significantly. Go back and ead Dare’s post again and tell me where he said anyone should “ignore early adopters.” Obviously they’re important, but you need to calibrate their feedback properly and not assume it will extrapolate to the rest of the world.

  59. Robert, your characterization of Dare Obasanjo’s post is completely incorrect. He never said “new companies [should] ignore early adopters…” Instead, he pointed out, correctly, that “the needs of early adopters and those of the majority of your potential user base differ significantly.”

    By mischaracterizing his central argument, you undercut your argument significantly. Go back and ead Dare’s post again and tell me where he said anyone should “ignore early adopters.” Obviously they’re important, but you need to calibrate their feedback properly and not assume it will extrapolate to the rest of the world.

  60. Great post. Thoughtful and insightful. Maybe a part II could be examples that have worked from your responses?

  61. Great post. Thoughtful and insightful. Maybe a part II could be examples that have worked from your responses?

  62. Ed,

    You make an excellent point. (or I guess Dare does). What it seems you and he are saying similar to what car companies do. They put out “concept cars” to get the reaction of the car enthusiast. Once they analyze the feeedback and reaction, and they decide to go into production (or not) they have to take into account the average driver that may want the car for reasons outside of it being cool or fast, or unique.

  63. Ed,

    You make an excellent point. (or I guess Dare does). What it seems you and he are saying similar to what car companies do. They put out “concept cars” to get the reaction of the car enthusiast. Once they analyze the feeedback and reaction, and they decide to go into production (or not) they have to take into account the average driver that may want the car for reasons outside of it being cool or fast, or unique.

  64. I believe I am doing all of these things, except perhaps the quality posts.. that’s hard for me to determine with my biased eye. Well.. and the video camera. Man, it is really high time for the iPhone 3G to support video recording.

    Great post. Appreciate it, Robert.

  65. I believe I am doing all of these things, except perhaps the quality posts.. that’s hard for me to determine with my biased eye. Well.. and the video camera. Man, it is really high time for the iPhone 3G to support video recording.

    Great post. Appreciate it, Robert.

  66. Interesting post Robert. I think it is pretty similar to what Seth Godin writes in one of his books, The Purple Cow. Early adopters (and sneezers) are nowadays the only audience you should target (or CAN target) but also the medium through which you can potentially reach the late adopters.

    iLike is no exception in my opinion, maybe 1% of people who love music use it, just like 1% of people who love to share use FriendFeed — no matter how big the target group is, it’s still 1%.

    It’s really easy to observe this when you live in a small country such as Luxembourg and compare your experience with people on the same board living in, say, the US. It’s seems like thousands are passionate about the web out there, in Luxembourg we are a few dozens. 1%.

    But the same difficulty remains: how do we reach the other 99%?

  67. Interesting post Robert. I think it is pretty similar to what Seth Godin writes in one of his books, The Purple Cow. Early adopters (and sneezers) are nowadays the only audience you should target (or CAN target) but also the medium through which you can potentially reach the late adopters.

    iLike is no exception in my opinion, maybe 1% of people who love music use it, just like 1% of people who love to share use FriendFeed — no matter how big the target group is, it’s still 1%.

    It’s really easy to observe this when you live in a small country such as Luxembourg and compare your experience with people on the same board living in, say, the US. It’s seems like thousands are passionate about the web out there, in Luxembourg we are a few dozens. 1%.

    But the same difficulty remains: how do we reach the other 99%?

  68. two things:

    1.
    “Write more well-thought-out posts. My traffic has been going up in the past few weeks because I started writing longer posts, again, and getting off of the PR treadmill of trying to just cover every PR story out there. Louis Gray is seeing the same trends, because he’s been doing longer “thought pieces” instead of just writing about the latest shiny object.”

    intersting sence everyone says the web is all about short form content

    2.
    schools are the answer

    I feel I may not explain it very well but

    if you teach them what is possible and muilptle tools for specifle things and get them to talk about new products and it maybe in the interest of buessness it will help microsoft or apple or whoever to find what users really want

    I suppose trying to say that we need to turn non-passonate into active users at least

    nice post scoble

  69. two things:

    1.
    “Write more well-thought-out posts. My traffic has been going up in the past few weeks because I started writing longer posts, again, and getting off of the PR treadmill of trying to just cover every PR story out there. Louis Gray is seeing the same trends, because he’s been doing longer “thought pieces” instead of just writing about the latest shiny object.”

    intersting sence everyone says the web is all about short form content

    2.
    schools are the answer

    I feel I may not explain it very well but

    if you teach them what is possible and muilptle tools for specifle things and get them to talk about new products and it maybe in the interest of buessness it will help microsoft or apple or whoever to find what users really want

    I suppose trying to say that we need to turn non-passonate into active users at least

    nice post scoble

  70. First off, this is why you should keep blogging, bro. This is one of your best in a long time.

    Next, what you are basically saying is that the essence of marketing (particularly in the social media/influencer age where one blogger can be greater than an MSFT-I’m a former FTE myself) is to find the “raving fans” and help empower them.

    (I blog on this a lot, see: http://www.jer979.com/search/?q=raving+fans

    I am in 100% agreement.

    Lastly, can I nominate one of those blogs you referred to in the PR bandwagon post that won’t make it to Digg or TechMeme? ;-)

    Great job, this is what Scobleizer is all about.

    And, if you think about it, your ‘passionates’ or ‘raving fans’ are the ones who have been your loyal blog readers for a while…

  71. First off, this is why you should keep blogging, bro. This is one of your best in a long time.

    Next, what you are basically saying is that the essence of marketing (particularly in the social media/influencer age where one blogger can be greater than an MSFT-I’m a former FTE myself) is to find the “raving fans” and help empower them.

    (I blog on this a lot, see: http://www.jer979.com/search/?q=raving+fans

    I am in 100% agreement.

    Lastly, can I nominate one of those blogs you referred to in the PR bandwagon post that won’t make it to Digg or TechMeme? ;-)

    Great job, this is what Scobleizer is all about.

    And, if you think about it, your ‘passionates’ or ‘raving fans’ are the ones who have been your loyal blog readers for a while…

  72. [...] The passionates vs. the non passionates (definitely also check the discussion on FriendFeed): “….Some things that I’ve noticed about late adopters (er, non-passionates) and how they use computers they really are much different than the passionates who I usually hang out with. They really don’t care about 99% of the things I care about. FriendFeed? Yeah, right, they haven’t even heard of it, and if I try telling them about it, they say “why would I do that?” See, most people just want to work their 9 to 5 jobs, go home, pop open a beer, sit on the couch, watch some movies, play with their kids, etc. [...]

  73. What a great post. This is something I think about all the time.

    I produce a video podcast about knitting with my wife at http://LetsKnit2gether.com We make our show for knitters and forget about trying to get everyone else to watch our show. My usual pitch is, “If you’re a knitter you’ll love our show. If not, you probably won’t.” Coming from the broadcast world where all shows are for everybody, this took some time for me to get used to.

    I see you’re speaking at the New Media Expo in a few weeks. (We are too – Saturday morning.) I’m sure you’ll be talking more about passionates vs. non passionates in your presentation. We’re looking forward to it :-)

  74. What a great post. This is something I think about all the time.

    I produce a video podcast about knitting with my wife at http://LetsKnit2gether.com We make our show for knitters and forget about trying to get everyone else to watch our show. My usual pitch is, “If you’re a knitter you’ll love our show. If not, you probably won’t.” Coming from the broadcast world where all shows are for everybody, this took some time for me to get used to.

    I see you’re speaking at the New Media Expo in a few weeks. (We are too – Saturday morning.) I’m sure you’ll be talking more about passionates vs. non passionates in your presentation. We’re looking forward to it :-)

  75. I took the time to read the entire post out of respect to the topic and you.

    However, it became apparent that tinges of judgement influenced your writing that essentially praises the passionates and categorizes the non-passionates as “less than”.

    I am by definition a late adopter, a Baby Boomer whoses previous career path and industy (the electrical distribution equipment industry) might as well have been located on another planet. We ineffectively used the web as a means to influence customers and have them influence us.

    Does that categorize me as a non-passionate? Not likely. At minimum I was ignorant ( I did not even you someone as famous as you existed). Fortunately, the internet gods smiled upon me and showed me the path to local conferences where I had my ah-ah moment!

    I have met many like me which in turn influenced my decision to be a self-labled social media evangelist to the non-passionates. They have the passion, one just needs to understand and communicate to them in a language and tone familiar to them.

  76. I took the time to read the entire post out of respect to the topic and you.

    However, it became apparent that tinges of judgement influenced your writing that essentially praises the passionates and categorizes the non-passionates as “less than”.

    I am by definition a late adopter, a Baby Boomer whoses previous career path and industy (the electrical distribution equipment industry) might as well have been located on another planet. We ineffectively used the web as a means to influence customers and have them influence us.

    Does that categorize me as a non-passionate? Not likely. At minimum I was ignorant ( I did not even you someone as famous as you existed). Fortunately, the internet gods smiled upon me and showed me the path to local conferences where I had my ah-ah moment!

    I have met many like me which in turn influenced my decision to be a self-labled social media evangelist to the non-passionates. They have the passion, one just needs to understand and communicate to them in a language and tone familiar to them.

  77. Hmm…I’m fairly passionate about technology and enjoy trying all the new services. But, to be totally honest, most of the recent crop are beyond me. It was Twitter that finally tipped it for me. I just can’t see why anyone wastes their time with it.

  78. Hmm…I’m fairly passionate about technology and enjoy trying all the new services. But, to be totally honest, most of the recent crop are beyond me. It was Twitter that finally tipped it for me. I just can’t see why anyone wastes their time with it.

  79. It’s not always about technology, Robert. Sometimes economy and lack of resources is a reason for the influx of “non-passionates.” And a lot of the time, people would be passionate if they knew what the heck the internet is.

    And let’s not forget the fact that of the six to seven billion people in the world only about a billion even have a computer in the first place. So, that means that five to six billion people really don’t care about Windows or OSX or all that.

    Your analogy is poor, pun not intended, because a lack of infrastructure and/or government empowerment is the usual reason for the approximate 5 billion Planet Earth citizens for not having computers or not being jacked in.

    Surely, Robert, you are not comparing a Silicon Valley family with a rural Parisian family to a western China family? And guess which of the three has more people?

  80. It’s not always about technology, Robert. Sometimes economy and lack of resources is a reason for the influx of “non-passionates.” And a lot of the time, people would be passionate if they knew what the heck the internet is.

    And let’s not forget the fact that of the six to seven billion people in the world only about a billion even have a computer in the first place. So, that means that five to six billion people really don’t care about Windows or OSX or all that.

    Your analogy is poor, pun not intended, because a lack of infrastructure and/or government empowerment is the usual reason for the approximate 5 billion Planet Earth citizens for not having computers or not being jacked in.

    Surely, Robert, you are not comparing a Silicon Valley family with a rural Parisian family to a western China family? And guess which of the three has more people?

  81. “Make it work great on mobile phones. So many blogs load slow on even my new 3G iPhone. Mashable, I’m looking at you.”

    Robert, I wonder if you’re aware that scobleizer.com doesn’t work on Windows Mobile 6 devices? Interestingly, mashable.com does, albeit slowly – and badly.

    It might be worth getting someone to look at your code – the iPhone is not the only mobile device being used to access the Internet. :-)

  82. “Make it work great on mobile phones. So many blogs load slow on even my new 3G iPhone. Mashable, I’m looking at you.”

    Robert, I wonder if you’re aware that scobleizer.com doesn’t work on Windows Mobile 6 devices? Interestingly, mashable.com does, albeit slowly – and badly.

    It might be worth getting someone to look at your code – the iPhone is not the only mobile device being used to access the Internet. :-)

  83. I’m not passionate about technology. But I’m building what people would call a tech-based company. Why? Because I’m passionate about something else that can only be realized via the Web.

    The key is to reaching “non-passionates” is to understand that there is no such thing. Everybody is passionate about SOMEthing.

    Stop making the technology the most important focus and the mainstream will come. Technology for technology’s sake attracks the early adopters, but it won’t get you people like me who want to engage but not because of the technology.

    Let the technology be a tool to connecting us to what we ARE passionate about and the majority with come. I’m betting everything on it.

  84. I’m not passionate about technology. But I’m building what people would call a tech-based company. Why? Because I’m passionate about something else that can only be realized via the Web.

    The key is to reaching “non-passionates” is to understand that there is no such thing. Everybody is passionate about SOMEthing.

    Stop making the technology the most important focus and the mainstream will come. Technology for technology’s sake attracks the early adopters, but it won’t get you people like me who want to engage but not because of the technology.

    Let the technology be a tool to connecting us to what we ARE passionate about and the majority with come. I’m betting everything on it.

  85. LOVE this post Robert. Totally agree with you on your decision to keep focused on “‘thought pieces’ instead of just writing about the latest shiny object”, i.e. stay away from the Echo Chamber of the blogosphere.

    I really like your breakdown of the “passionates” and “non-passionates” – this is a continual paradox of user classification. I am definitely a “passionate” early adopter (FriendFeed / Blackberry user). I’ve been in technology for 20 years and never looked back. What you’re classifying here is really a breakdown of “technical” and “non-technical” folks in our society. For example, I’ve see 90% of the population out there as “non-passionates” (think non-tech), i.e. folks who only use say LinkedIn; ok they’ve heard of Facebook and MySpace, but have *never* heard of twitter or FriendFeed at all! – nor do even they see the value in using them. Moreover, they are horrified at the thought of sharing their lives online in such a community…never!

    So, what I’ve surmised is that we really are seeing three distinctions:
    1. technical saavy
    2. willingness to be open to sharing of one’s self online
    3. commitment to learn new technology and manage self / brand online.

    Think about, a LinkedIn profile is almost idiot proof – super simple. That’s exactly the comfort zone 90% of our population has right now. So if you want to target mass audiences, be sure to find that right fit. Or be happy to get the 10% “passionates” that are toting blackberries and iPhones.

    The numbers are there, we see them everday. Now, how do you build a product or service that accurately targets your audience…that’s business smarts!

    Susan Beebe
    @smbeebe

  86. LOVE this post Robert. Totally agree with you on your decision to keep focused on “‘thought pieces’ instead of just writing about the latest shiny object”, i.e. stay away from the Echo Chamber of the blogosphere.

    I really like your breakdown of the “passionates” and “non-passionates” – this is a continual paradox of user classification. I am definitely a “passionate” early adopter (FriendFeed / Blackberry user). I’ve been in technology for 20 years and never looked back. What you’re classifying here is really a breakdown of “technical” and “non-technical” folks in our society. For example, I’ve see 90% of the population out there as “non-passionates” (think non-tech), i.e. folks who only use say LinkedIn; ok they’ve heard of Facebook and MySpace, but have *never* heard of twitter or FriendFeed at all! – nor do even they see the value in using them. Moreover, they are horrified at the thought of sharing their lives online in such a community…never!

    So, what I’ve surmised is that we really are seeing three distinctions:
    1. technical saavy
    2. willingness to be open to sharing of one’s self online
    3. commitment to learn new technology and manage self / brand online.

    Think about, a LinkedIn profile is almost idiot proof – super simple. That’s exactly the comfort zone 90% of our population has right now. So if you want to target mass audiences, be sure to find that right fit. Or be happy to get the 10% “passionates” that are toting blackberries and iPhones.

    The numbers are there, we see them everday. Now, how do you build a product or service that accurately targets your audience…that’s business smarts!

    Susan Beebe
    @smbeebe

  87. Good post, interesting topic. However, I feel that putting techie people and passionates in the same bucket category doesn’t do complete justice to either one of them.

    If you can identify people in your targeted niche that are passionate about an activity – they will be the best people to target initially to get onboard. The more your product feeds their passion, the more they will benefit your launch (and will also evangalise for you). But these people may take time to catch on. If the benefit of using your product evidently improves/enhances their passion – they will trod along. And will certainly stay with you longer.

    As an example, if you are launching an app that can improve the interior designing process, then the better people to target initially will be people who are passionate about interior designing (regardless of how tech-friendly they are), rather than just techie folks trying out new stuff. Because the techie folks won’t get you more traffic or even good testimonials.

  88. Good post, interesting topic. However, I feel that putting techie people and passionates in the same bucket category doesn’t do complete justice to either one of them.

    If you can identify people in your targeted niche that are passionate about an activity – they will be the best people to target initially to get onboard. The more your product feeds their passion, the more they will benefit your launch (and will also evangalise for you). But these people may take time to catch on. If the benefit of using your product evidently improves/enhances their passion – they will trod along. And will certainly stay with you longer.

    As an example, if you are launching an app that can improve the interior designing process, then the better people to target initially will be people who are passionate about interior designing (regardless of how tech-friendly they are), rather than just techie folks trying out new stuff. Because the techie folks won’t get you more traffic or even good testimonials.

  89. Hi Rob,

    I have to admit, I’m not convinced by friendfeed, it really doesn’t offer me what I think it should… I’m not a passionate, but I am an early adopter… i.e. I try everything about as soon as everyone else does… I read blogs, I keep up with what’s happening, BUT I get bored extremely quickly… So, I guess you could say I’m a good filter for the “non-passionates”… Incidentally, I was on the case very early with myspace and facebook, and they managed to keep me… Not so with twitter and friendfeed – (The whole twitter phenomenon is really something I don’t get at all, I really see it as a geek thing and nothing more)… I guess I’m interested to see what friendfeed do next… But as it stands, it pretty much ranks with Twitter…

  90. Hi Rob,

    I have to admit, I’m not convinced by friendfeed, it really doesn’t offer me what I think it should… I’m not a passionate, but I am an early adopter… i.e. I try everything about as soon as everyone else does… I read blogs, I keep up with what’s happening, BUT I get bored extremely quickly… So, I guess you could say I’m a good filter for the “non-passionates”… Incidentally, I was on the case very early with myspace and facebook, and they managed to keep me… Not so with twitter and friendfeed – (The whole twitter phenomenon is really something I don’t get at all, I really see it as a geek thing and nothing more)… I guess I’m interested to see what friendfeed do next… But as it stands, it pretty much ranks with Twitter…

  91. Of course, when I say ‘geek’ I mean that in the best sense of the word… ;)

    So, ya, I was actually replying to your very interesting article re. passionates vs. non-passionates which I read in full…

    However, I would categorise even further than just passionates and non-passionates, because I know some pretty hardcore passionate Linux guys who wouldn’t know anything about friendfeed or twitter…

    Me, I’m a passionate internet user, in that I’m passionate about the internet, and what it’s done for our culture and society… So I guess even further categorisation is due… But when it comes to twitter and friendfeed, I guess you could say I’m a non-passionate… I was however extremely impressed with how friendfeed integrated everything from my facebook, to my gmail, etc.etc…. I wasn’t overly impressed with what happened after that…

    However, having read your article re. friendfeed’s hiring policy, I’m extremely interested to see what comes next, and will be watching this space in the coming months…

    thanks for educating me

    cheers, and if you’re ever in Ireland, i’d love to show you around…

  92. Of course, when I say ‘geek’ I mean that in the best sense of the word… ;)

    So, ya, I was actually replying to your very interesting article re. passionates vs. non-passionates which I read in full…

    However, I would categorise even further than just passionates and non-passionates, because I know some pretty hardcore passionate Linux guys who wouldn’t know anything about friendfeed or twitter…

    Me, I’m a passionate internet user, in that I’m passionate about the internet, and what it’s done for our culture and society… So I guess even further categorisation is due… But when it comes to twitter and friendfeed, I guess you could say I’m a non-passionate… I was however extremely impressed with how friendfeed integrated everything from my facebook, to my gmail, etc.etc…. I wasn’t overly impressed with what happened after that…

    However, having read your article re. friendfeed’s hiring policy, I’m extremely interested to see what comes next, and will be watching this space in the coming months…

    thanks for educating me

    cheers, and if you’re ever in Ireland, i’d love to show you around…

  93. There’s also a network effect, in that non-passionates may put even passionates off a technology – for example, I might use Twitter, but actually it’s much less use to me because not one of my family (and only one friend outside of work) use it.

  94. There’s also a network effect, in that non-passionates may put even passionates off a technology – for example, I might use Twitter, but actually it’s much less use to me because not one of my family (and only one friend outside of work) use it.

  95. OK, I don’t think it’s necessarily accurate to portray anyone as either passionate or non-passionate – I know a few passionates who know every product and are at the forefront of the technological revolution… I also know a few “cave dwellers” who don’t even know how to use a computer…

    Then there’s everybody in between… and that’s a hell of a lot of people, and a hell of a lot of shades of grey here…

    as for the idiots vs. the non-idiots, Owen Byrne made a point above that particularly resonated with me…

    cheers

  96. OK, I don’t think it’s necessarily accurate to portray anyone as either passionate or non-passionate – I know a few passionates who know every product and are at the forefront of the technological revolution… I also know a few “cave dwellers” who don’t even know how to use a computer…

    Then there’s everybody in between… and that’s a hell of a lot of people, and a hell of a lot of shades of grey here…

    as for the idiots vs. the non-idiots, Owen Byrne made a point above that particularly resonated with me…

    cheers

  97. [...] It’s not for non-passionate Internet users. They won’t get it. It takes some time to learn how to use this feature. (To get what I’m talking about when I use the term “passionate” you should see my previous rant about passionates vs. non-passionates). [...]

  98. Robert,

    I don’t lack passion, I lack resources. As a single father of two with one in college, I have to be risk averse. As much as I’d love to buy the best new gadget or fly off to the next conference, I simply can’t. I need to be home for my daughter and keep my son in the required books at IUPUI.

    Being passionate is a choice, but being able to fulfill that passion is a gift from God that I hope you’re thankful for every day. I have a few thousand readers on my blog and I’m proud of that number – it’s taken my a few years to get there – while I juggle all my other responsibilities.

    It’s a good post that stirred up a lot of folks, including me. Keep doing what you’re doing, and once in a while say a prayer of thanks at the opportunities you’ve had.

    Doug

  99. Robert,

    I don’t lack passion, I lack resources. As a single father of two with one in college, I have to be risk averse. As much as I’d love to buy the best new gadget or fly off to the next conference, I simply can’t. I need to be home for my daughter and keep my son in the required books at IUPUI.

    Being passionate is a choice, but being able to fulfill that passion is a gift from God that I hope you’re thankful for every day. I have a few thousand readers on my blog and I’m proud of that number – it’s taken my a few years to get there – while I juggle all my other responsibilities.

    It’s a good post that stirred up a lot of folks, including me. Keep doing what you’re doing, and once in a while say a prayer of thanks at the opportunities you’ve had.

    Doug

  100. I’m passionate enough to code whenever I can steal the sleep.. This means, on a nightly basis, trying to outlast the kids and the wife, and finding enough energy remaining to slave in the wee hours..

    This means I rarely get the time to try out everyone else’s widget or platform or read all the yapping blogs… I’m scooping memes up from a variety of APIs and assembling them in novel ways to support Topics/Posting, Searches, Tagging, SYM’ing, Feed-sharing and more across several sites. How fun is it to watch Google Reader implement features I had in place months before..?

    Of course, I have no talent for promotion.. that goes with the tunnel-vision of coding.. someday, maybe, it all pays off :)

  101. I’m passionate enough to code whenever I can steal the sleep.. This means, on a nightly basis, trying to outlast the kids and the wife, and finding enough energy remaining to slave in the wee hours..

    This means I rarely get the time to try out everyone else’s widget or platform or read all the yapping blogs… I’m scooping memes up from a variety of APIs and assembling them in novel ways to support Topics/Posting, Searches, Tagging, SYM’ing, Feed-sharing and more across several sites. How fun is it to watch Google Reader implement features I had in place months before..?

    Of course, I have no talent for promotion.. that goes with the tunnel-vision of coding.. someday, maybe, it all pays off :)

  102. [...] you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Robert Scoble has a nice piece on “passionates”, people who are early adopters of technology. He says that companies need to focus on passionates [...]