Should I Become An Early Adopter?

Early adopters are the first people in your circle of friends to have the hottest new technology. They were the first to get a Blackberry, the first to get an Amazon Kindle and the first to try out Windows Vista. Sometimes, the early adopter method is going to mean you have the next big thing before anyone else you know. A lot of times, early adoption of technology means you’re going to have to fight through unforeseen glitches and deal with the frustrations of fixes and patches of high-priced technology, so you have to consider your threshold for aggravation and frustration before you become an early adopter.

What Is an Early Adopter?

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Originally, an early adopter was a customer or company, also known as a “lighthouse customer”, which agreed to adopt a technology or product before it hit the general market. Early adopters would be part of the test-phase of a product, giving feedback to the provider or inventor in exchange for better and more rapid customer service. In fact, early adopters often would have an employee help the designer in the design phase. This relationship gave the product designer a revenue source to continue working on the product, while the customer got access to cutting-edge technology and superior technical support. Companies still “early adopt”, while government bureaucracies and militaries also do the same.

These days, the term early adopter often refers to private individuals who buy a new product or technological device before the vast majority of other customers. These early adopters tend to be affluent enough to afford the higher prices of brand new products, while also having the excess cash needed to buy widgets. An early adopter tends to be an educated risk-taker who enjoys having the latest tech item. These people tend to be fickle, which provides a valuable service for product designers needing honest or even critical feedback. When an early adopter does like a product, though, that person tends to mention it to friends and co-workers, and tends to be in a position of influence. Therefore, early adopters become a part of the marketing scheme of corporations introducing products, who hope these products become “Viral”.

Early Adoption Advantages

As mentioned earlier, companies which design new products like to have critical customer feedback, so they can fix their errors before the product hits the mainstream. Therefore, early adopters tend to get quicker feedback from product designers and may even have an influence on the development of products. Also, they get early usage of cutting edge technology that might give them an edge in their business dealings.

Also, early adopters acquire the prestige of having the latest piece of technology, whether that technology works efficiently or not. Early adopters often have the type of personality that wants to have the latest thing, even if it’s to complain about the product.

Early Adopter Disadvantages

Early adopters will encounter all the problems inherent in trying out a new technology. Consider all the glitches you face with even tested computer software and then imagine that beta testers are probably going to face even more problems. There are also risks involved with trying out a new product, if the technology is not necessarily safe or if it is prone to breaking and costing you money. (Generally, beta testers are given special discounts, though people we call “early adopters” these days, who are simply buying new products when they first hit the market, must pay extra money for hot new technology.)

Being an early adopter can be frustrating. So if you’re easily frustrated by broken or glitchy technology, I wouldn’t become an early adopter. If you become an early adopter and you decide you like the product (or don’t like it), you should give the producers plenty of feedback, so they can improve the product.

I personally don’t adopt early. High prices and low performance are not my idea of a good purchase, so I wouldn’t recommend it. I would suggest you become part of the group known as the “early majority”. Being an early adopter is these days as much a part of buying a status symbol, so if you aren’t into status symbols, I would avoid being the guinea pig for a new tech device.