Thursday, April 27, 2006

Drivers of Adoption

The NFL Draft is this weekend. For those of you who aren't crazy addicted fantasy football players, it is the weekend where all the great college football players find their new home in professional football. For me in particular, it marks the official starting point in my keeper fantasy football league(see I am extra sick) were we can begin trading people and draft positions in advance of our draft the weekend prior to the start of the football season in September. Does this sound crazy yet? It should.

Why am I sharing this with you? Because this is the sort of thing that drives the adoption of technology. Let me explain.

I have been playing fantasy football since 1998 or 1999. I was working for CSC at Sun in Silicon Valley and I had a lot of time on my hands as my wife was back in Los Angeles. Over the years my addiction to fantasy football has grown as my expertise (or so I say) has developed. With each year the level of engagement and involvement has increased to what I would say was probably a saturation point two years ago. Last year I was certainly on my game but I had developed the right balance to stay competitive and still remain married.

So fantasy football leads to technology adoption. Several years ago, I decided that I needed to be able to watch more than one game at a time. In fact, it became necessary for me to watch all the games. Especially since I had players on just about every team in football. At the time I had Cox digital cable, which is a fine service, but not one that had the NFL Sunday ticket package that was only on Directv. What is an addict to do? Get Direct TV.

I didn't want to get rid of Cox as there were some particular things I liked about Cox and most importantly they provide me with my cable modem at home. So I got both. I kept both for a number of months until I realized that Directv had just about everything I wanted except for the broadband connectivity. Goodbye Cox Digital Cable. Hello Directv. I kept the cable modem though. Cox lost me because of the NFL.

Last year I bought a PSP. A lot of the purchase was about my personal ongoing market research but quickly, given all the stuff going on in my life, I put the device in my bag and forgot about it. Until Location Free became available. Location Free was some gee whiz technology that was fun to show people but as I am not really a TV watcher it too sort of wore off quickly. Except on Sunday. Suddenly I could be watching my TV with split screens in my house with two games on and then use the PSP to watch a 3rd game. Nice huh? I wish this was a joke.

Recently I recently received a Sprint demo phone which has been really impressive for a number of reasons but most importantly to me because I can use it as an EVDO modem for my laptop. The TV on my phone stuff? Not so interesting. That was until Sprint announced the NFL draft coverage on my phone. Um, ok, that's kind of cool. Especially since we are busy this weekend and I can't stay glued to the television. Well, maybe TV on your phone is kind of cool...I will certainly be taking period looks to see who got who over the weekend.

Yesterday Shawn and I were up in SF and Silicon Valley for meetings and I was driving around in a car that had Sirius radio. Shawn commented that it was kind of pointless for Hertz to spend all that money deploying that. I suggested that it might be Sirius putting it in for marketing purposes. I am not sure what the actual answer is, but I told Shawn that I thought it was brilliant. I told him that last football season I was going to buy a Sirius radio but couldn't get entirely over the hump because I was worried about using it after the football season. Having rented two cars now with Sirius I am ready to make the jump as I think there is certainly enough other content to rationalize my football purchase. That is, I will buy it when football season actually starts.

Although this story is a sad indication of the sickness present in sports fanatics it highlights the marketing challenges to me of any new technology. What is the best way to drive adoption? What are the must have things that makes a consumer feel compelled to adopt a new technology? In my case the technologies association with the NFL will warrant an investigation into whether or not it is something I should acquire. There are certainly many other analogues to this for other subcultures or affinity groups. It will be interesting to see which levers work most successfully in mobile.

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