I’m Not An Early Adopter of Technology, Are You?

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You’d probably be surprised to learn that I, someone with a degree in computer science and a career in the field of software development, am not an early adopter of technology. Prior to my current Treo 755p, I had an old Samsung phone for over two years. Before that old boring Samsung I had some other phone for two or three years. Each time, I didn’t get the cutting edge in technology, I got the cheapest and most functional version available. While my friends were taking photos and videos, I was asking them not to send me text messages because they cost me 7 cents a piece (there was no way I was sending a text message on a regular numeric keypad, I don’t have that much patience).

Want another indication of my anti-early adoption ways? Until a few months ago, I didn’t even have a television capable of high definition. High definition has been around since the 90s and I didn’t get a set capable of playing HD until 2007. This Thursday, if all goes well, Verizon will be coming over to install FiOS and my first taste of actual high definition in my own house.

So, why the aversion to technology? Cost. Anyone who has seen the product sales life cycle recognizes the small but important role early adopters play in the life cycle. They are the ones who wait in line early, boost the early sales numbers, and give you the fuel to continue innovation and thus better products. They are also the ones willing to pay high prices just for the opportunity to be one of the first in their circle of friends to have it. In many cases, that first premium is quite high! I was never one to be wow’d by technology, at least to the point where I had to have one. I was content to be one of the consumer masses to purchase the technology after it had matured a little and the prices had come down from the heavens. It’s a logic that has saved me from being one the early high definition DVD early adopters, many of which may find themselves screwed.

HD-DVD looks to be losing the format wars between itself and Blu-Ray, so all the HD-DVD early adopters looked nervous when Warner announced Blu-Ray exclusivity. To make matters worse, even the winners are smarting. The new Blu-Ray format, version 2.0, makes a lot of other Blu-Ray players obsolete! While the owners of existing Blu-Ray players won’t be as screwed as HD-DVD, it still represents a bit of a setback for those early adopters. As for me, maybe I get a PlayStation 3 now that it appears to be ‘future-proofed’ (at least to version 2.0)… or maybe I wait a few more months for everything shake out. 🙂

Are you an early adopter? If so, why? If not, why not?

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “I’m Not An Early Adopter of Technology, Are You?”

  1. razmaspaz says:

    I think it depends on the item, and what you call “early”. Its not really fair to say that early adopters buy things just to be first. There are 2 types of technology products:

    1)Gadget – these are HDTV/Blu-ray types where it really is about having the latest and greatest.

    2)Professional – here it isn’t about being 1st on the block. its about finding a productivity gain or competitive advantage. I say professional here, but it could be personal too. To take a financial point of view, would you wait to get an HSBC account until everyone else had one, or would you immediately say, hey, better interest rate, and hop on. The same is true for tech. I’m currently waiting for someone to create a product that syncs google calendar and iCal, and isn’t subscription based. The very minute that happens, I’ll switch to that product. It isn’t about having the best, its about making my life easier and more productive.

  2. Personally, technology seems to be the area in which I’m most frugal. My cell phone is old and crappy and cheap. Im currently using a macbook, which is not the cheapest way to go, but I didn’t buy the lowest end version.

    I only ever replace pieces of technology when they break or I have no choice. Upgrading/purchasing newer models is where a lot of people empty their wallets. A friend of mine buys a new computer every 16 months.

  3. AJ says:

    Early adopters don’t necessarily have to face ridiculously inflated prices. Technology isn’t always hardware. There is plenty of free web 2.0 webapps and open source software out there.

    I agree that its usually worth waiting a while before splurging on the latest and greatest gizmo. But there are ways to early-adopt without breaking the bank.

    I’m an early adopter of just about anything free. Why not?

  4. I am a late adopter of technology. I am always getting the free cellphones. So what if I didn’t have the latest phone like the Razr or the chocolate or whatever. Tech gadgets are always improving, so the cool thing that you bought today will be obsolete ( not as cool) 6 months down the road. The smart thing to do is buy this piece of technology ( assuming that you really need it) as a late adopter. So what if you are not cool – you get your satisfaction when you see your friends cutting spending on necessities like food, heating, rent just to be able to support their lavish lifestyle. If you wait a reasonable amount of time, you will get a product that is not only better than the same product that the early adopters get BUT its also cheaper and you will save a lot of money in the long run.
    In investing terms, buying the newest piece of technology is a crappy investment in the long run. If you simply put the money in dividend paying stocks or even a CD and waited for an year, you will be able to buy the technology just with the earnings from your investment.. You won’t tie your hard earned money in a rapidly depreciating asset, would you?

  5. Tommy says:

    I definitely am not an early adopter of technology. On the rare occasions that I’ve gone out on a limb and been the first on the block, I’ve usually been burned. Therefore, I have learned from my mistakes and take the long view. For example, I rock a 19″ CRT TV in my living room…take that HDTV!! I think one of the rare areas that I am an early adopter is in processes rather actual gear. For example, I run a pretty tight (and insane) backup ship at home. We backup everything on two laptops and one desktop onto a RAID array that is replicated to a set of standalone hard drives and backed up AGAIN to mozy and flickr (for photos at least). I use an old Pentium 3Ghz box to handle these tasks.

    Anyway, for the most part, my early adopting for the most part is into cheap and simple solutions that automate things rather than single cool devices. Although I do like my HTC Mogul (but I waited for about 6 months and watched all of the upgrade snafus before finally jumping in).

  6. My husband and I are both into computers and technology in general, but we’re far from early adopters.

    Both our televisions were given to us and they’re just nice, plain ol’ televisions. The last gaming system I had was a Sega Genesis. The last computer game I bought was made in 2000.

    I have an iPod nano and my husband has the video iPod, but neither are cutting edge versions. We got them a while back and I remember lamenting that the middle schoolers where I was interning all had iPods already.

    Our phones are nice, but they aren’t bleeding edge, either. We probably would have kept our old ones except that we changed carriers and they weren’t compatible.

    I did get a really nice Dell laptop, though, because I knew that it would have to last me. My previous laptop (which my husband had received for services and then refurbishes) just wasn’t cutting it any more. On our coffee table is the same monitor I got back in 2000 or 2001, though my husband has a newer one in the office.

    I’m not even sure where are DVD player is because we own maybe 3 DVDs and hardly ever rent DVDs.

    All in all, we really don’t buy a lot of personal electronics except to replace what breaks and can’t be fixed. We’re far from debt free, but I hate to think how things would be if were truly tech crazy.

  7. Hazzard says:

    I am an early adopter on something once in awhile but overall I wait it out like you do. I still have a CRT 32″ tv (no HD etc) that the previous owner’s of our house left. I also have the free celullar phone etc.

    I do own an Ipod Touch though. I guess that disqualifies me, but I did buy it through a corporate discount. 🙂 (I never pay full price for anything)

    Gartner consulting uses something they call a “Hype cycle”. Basically this looks at different technologies and predicts when they will truly be mainstream, commodity type technologies. Much of that has to do with cost, ease of use etc. In the past, I’ve always found that I tend to buy towards the right side of the cycle since costs have come down so far.

  8. leodude says:

    Although Cost is one the major Factors… I would say that the main reason why I avoid adopting cutting edge technology early on is that I don’t want to be among the first test the product! I would rather wait it out till all the bugs/usability issues are fixed rather than buy a buggy product that is launched because the sales team committed to a launch date.

    But Like AJ above I’m not averse to trying out free stuff.. But you wont catch me buying vista in the next two years.

  9. Posco says:

    I’m also severely educated in computer science, and I’m also not an early-adopter of technology. Besides cost, I cite “understanding” as a big factor. I understand what “new” technology is at a more fundamental level than an iPhone-toting twenty-something. I understand actual benefits vs. marketing when it comes to dual- or quad-core processors. I understand how difficult it is to produce a bug-less motherboard or software or website. I understand that I want my tech objects to create and store media that will be useful in ten or twenty years, thus requiring the technology industry (and consumers) to agree on and use standards.

    Regarding the quality of new un-tried stuff: Who was it that said that “Technology is what you call something that does not work”? After all, you don’t call your toaster technology. All it does is toast bread; it just does what it’s supposed to!

  10. Meg says:

    I’m definitely not an early adaptor. I have been putting off buying a flat screen TV for over a year because prices continue to fall (might take the plunge during superbowl sales, but I hear prices will drop another 30% in 2008, so I’m still debating…).

    I also still use the cheapest Samsung phone that came with my plan over a year ago. I’m not one of those a-holes (no offense) who is going to walk around with a bluetooth headpiece on paying $75 more per month so I can pretend I’m that important.

    Oh, and I don’t even have an ipod (gasp!). I simply don’t need/want one. One came with my Mac during a promotion when I bought it, and I returned it a month later when I hadn’t yet taken it out of the box.

    I am an early adaptor in terms of trying new restaurants and buying new shoes…I guess electronics and gadgets just aren’t my priority. 🙂

  11. Heck no! I can’t bring myself to buy things before the manufacturer works the kinks out!!! I guess I’ll always be a late adopter…

  12. Bita says:

    I love gadgets, but I’m not an early adopter. I find that I’ll wait until I have enough money to by a gadget and make sure it will fit all of my current and future needs. I waited the longest time for an mp3 player and instead of opting for an Ipod I went with the Creative Zen player based on the features to decrease the need for accessories. Right now I’ll only buy gadgets that I can afford and make the most sense for me to own.

  13. Mrs. Micah says:

    Late adopter normally. My husband and I were discussing this last night. We both lust for the MacBook Air (though we’re neither of us Mac users) but we want to wait until slim computers like that cost less…because small is sexy but we don’t pay for sexy.

    On the other hand, if everyone were like us, would they come out with more thin computers or would it be a flop? Because someone has to adopt, right?

    Maybe a really thin computer is worth that much to some people or some corporations…I’ll let them be the ones to buy it for now.

  14. RacerX says:

    I know i have Stuffitis bad. I especially like the new gadgets. I guess I will just have to hopw that the company buy them for me to use!

  15. saladdin says:

    I have never owned a cell phone. Take that technology!


  16. Lord says:

    It can really vary. I am not one to seek out the latest thing, but if it provides me capability that I otherwise wouldn’t have and do want, I am willing to consider it. My last TV was 20 years old before going out, but yes, I replaced it with an HDTV since anything else would be dumb these days. If anyone comes out with an HD DVR other than Tivo (no subscriptions for me), I will buy it because I have a use for it, and have had a use for it for some time, but until someone comes out with it I can’t. On the other hand, I have little use for an HD player, and won’t be buying any for a couple years, until I can get my hands on an HD DVR at least.

  17. Lord says:

    Sort of brings up the problem with shopping. If what you want isn’t out there, do you settle for what is, or just say no? Sometimes you need something even if it isn’t what you really want, and sometimes it is too far from it to even bother.

  18. Patrick says:

    No, I’m usually very far behind the times. I’ve got a 5 year old laptop, a 25″ CRT TV, and until a month ago, I had a regular cell phone. I got a PDA from the Sprint SERO plan about a week before you wrote about yours. 🙂

    I don’t even have an iPod. Well, I got one from a bank promotion, but gave it away on my site. That was a lot of fun. I guess the big reason I don’t is cost as well. You sink a lot of money into something that only depreciates in value as the newer, better models come down in price. I get by just fine with what I have.

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