Research firm Gartner's Hype Cycle serves as a harsh wake-up call to those of us who are wowed by the latest technologies. Excitement surrounding the new products that are promoted on a daily basis by the media often peaks way too soon.

At AMD’s Mobile Forum in Nice yesterday, Gartner’s Ranjit Atwal showed exactly where his research firm placed today’s most talked about products on the rocky road between developer’s dream and mainstream. The cycle goes like this…

  • Technology Trigger, where the breakthrough generates press interest.
  • Peak of Inflated Expectation, where unrealistic expectations are placed on the product.
  • Trough of Disillusionment, by which time the media has abandoned the technology.
  • Slope of Enlightenment, where the product gains ground and some people start using it.
  • Plateau of Productivity, the product finally reaches the mainstream.

So where do today’s most hyped technologies sit on this cycle? At the AMD event yesterday, a Microsoft spokesperson said the launch of Windows Vista would finally drag 64-bit computing into the mainstream, but Gartner’s not so sure. It currently sits way back in the cycle on the Technology Trigger, which seems reasonable given that we’ll have to wait until 64-bit apps are widespread to take full advantage of it.

Meanwhile, the Tablet PC concept has been around for a while now, and yet it’s still not reached that Plateau of Productivity. Microsoft is still firmly behind the concept, but it’s currently dithering in Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment. The Microsoft spokesperson admitted Windows Vista – many of the versions of which will integrate the Tablet PC platform, rather than it being an independent OS – would be “make or break time” for slate systems.

Finally, I was surprised to see multicore processors still residing in the Technology Trigger category, convinced as I am that many people are already buying systems with dual-core chips, and that they’ll eventually become the norm.

But not all newly launched products face months of struggle in the Trough of Disillusionment before becoming mainstream. Atwal said the multicore processor was one category that could expect to breeze through the cycle very quickly.

So for multicore, just for once, do believe the hype.