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Where Are We In The Hype Cycle?

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New technologies tend to follow different trajectories of hype, hope, and despair as they are discovered by different groups of people and finally adopted (or ignored) by consumers. Gartner actually goes ahead and charts this hype cycle for different technologies. Its latest hype cycle for 2008, shown above, is making the rounds. (It was released in July, but is just now reaching the upward trajectory in its own cycle). According to Gartner’s view of the world, the visibility of new technologies peaks early as initial excitement gains steam. This phase is followed by a “trough of disillusionment” in which inflated expectations hit reality. But as technologies prove themselves, their visibility begins to grow again at a more measured pace.

Of course, not all technologies go through these phases. Some just drop of the face of the Earth never to be heard from again; some wander around for years and don’t hit their hype cycle until later in life, and some build visibility at a steadier pace. But it is still a useful visual metaphor, especially for high-profile technologies that do exhibit these traits.

So where are we in the hype cycle exactly? Some technologies still moving towards the “peak of inflated expectations” include cloud computing, microblogging, and 3-D printing. Public Virtual Worlds, RFID, Web 2.0, and Wikis are troughing. And emerging into the “slope of enlightenment” are Tablet PCs (oh, yeah) and location-aware applications (thank you, iPhone).

What else belongs on the hype cycle, and where would you put it?

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