It was a routine trip back home from work one of these days. As soon as I boarded the bus the driver asked me: “So, what do you think about Google’s announcement regarding China? Will Yahoo follow the suit?”. The same bus driver had asked me about my views on NexusOne on the day it was announced. He even has a strong point of view on net neutrality. The other day the librarian showed me a Firefox plug-in that hides your identity from Google. Everyday it’s a constant reminder of the demographics that we live in the Silicon Valley. It’s an innovation dagger. One edge keeps people to stay on top of cutting edge technology and the other keeps them away from the vast majority of the users that don’t live in the valley.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of being surrounded by the smartest of the smart people in the valley. However for entrepreneurs it is equally important to stay grounded in the reality. As cool as iPod was and iPhone is and iPad/iSlate will be it takes years for the products to cross the chasm and many products simply vanish. If you are designing a product in the valley please do me a favor – find your users outside the valley. They are the real people, the mass, that you should be designing for. It took Facebook 5 years to go from 5M users to 350M users and Foursquare is just the beginning of what’s more to come. If you are in the valley building the next big thing, be real. Hangout with all the cool kids on the block but don’t forget that you will have to cross the chasm and it won’t be easy.
Tomorrow Apple is going to announce the tablet. When I take the bus tomorrow I will face the question from the driver: “So, what do you think of the tablet?”. While I prepare my answer, check out this hilarious “In The Valley” performance that resonates well with what we see and how we think.
(Cross-posted @ Cloud Computing)