The Importance of Gaining Early Adopters for Long-Term Success

A recent study fascinates me. In the name of the experiment, a music playlist was generated with all types of music. Study participants were then invited to view the list on the computer and to click a button of any tune they’d be interested in downloading for free. Four different computer stations were set up with a varied group of participants sent to each. As each viewer clicked the songs he or she would like to download after hearing samples, the tally of the number of people who had also “liked” that song appeared to the left of the title. So if 2 people had selected it for download, the number 2 would appear next to the song. If 20 people downloaded it, the number 20 would appear.

Common sense would tell you that with an equally varied group of participants who had been vetted and equally divided between the four groups according to musical tastes, the preferred song lists ranked by likes would be very similar across the four identical lists. In other words, the best songs would rise to the top equally on all four computers.

Surprisingly this did not happen. In fact something quite extraordinary happened. What might be the top 20 songs on computer #1 weren’t even in the top 100 of computer #2.  The lists between computers showed no correlating ranking relationship.

What happened?

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