Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Good News for Twitter (I Think): It Has Scaled the “Peak of Inflated Expectations”!

Can the hype surrounding buzzy tech like Twitter, the Kindle and cloud computing get any louder? No, pronounces tech consultancy Gartner Inc., which has a very official-looking chart to make its case.

It’s part of Gartner’s annual “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies” report, which is basically a fancy version of one of those “What’s Hot in 2009” issues that magazines like Entertainment Weekly put out (EW is still around, right?).  Gartner has been pumping these out since 2005, and if nothing else, they’re fun to look at. Click the chart to enlarge:


The gist, as I understand it, is pretty straightforward: The promise of new technology moves much faster than the technology itself, which means that expectations get inflated, then deflated, before the technology eventually becomes mainstream (if it ever does). Can’t tell you what methodology Gartner uses to assemble the chart, but I have a hunch that you could figure out the top of the expectations peak with a simple Google (GOOG) search.

Of course, even though the chart looks cool, there’s more art than science here. As Reuters points out, Gartner’s 2006 report told us that Web 2.0 would would go mainstream by 2008. Today, Gartner tells us that Web 2.0 is still another two-to-five years away from breaking big. Meanwhile, be advised that we still have more than a decade before “human augmentation” plays in Peoria.

And I’m still not sure what it is, exactly, that you’re supposed to do with this knowledge. Should Amazon (AMZN) be psyched or worried that e-book readers have reached the top of the hype cycle? If the tablet computer is already climbing up the “Slope of Enlightenment,” does that mean Apple’s (AAPL) presumed-to-be iWant is already late to the party?

But who cares? I love the terminology. I always imagine that the “Trough of Disillusionment” can be found somewhere near the horse latitudes, or perhaps the Fortress of Solitude.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus