5 Reasons Why Being An Early Adopter Is A Bad Idea

Joel Lee 18-10-2013

Are you the type of person who pre-orders the newest tech gadgets as soon as they’re available? Then you’re an early adopter. Whether it’s the latest iteration of the iPhone/Galaxy/Lumia, the newest media format, or an innovation never seen before, you just got to have it ASAP. But wait! Early adoption may not be such a good idea.


Personally, I don’t believe in early adoption. I might think that the newest gadget is cool and awesome, but I’ll never be in that group of first buyers because there are too many drawbacks. If all you want is the vanity and trendsetting power of being an early adopter, go for it, but for those of you who haven’t really given early adoption much thought, here’s some brain food that you ought to consider.

High Retail Prices


Technology is always improving, which means there is a constant stream of new products being released over time. The result is that already-released products rarely, if ever, increase in price. If Gadget X gets released with a price point of $500, there’s almost no chance that you’ll see it for $600 the following year. More likely, you’ll see it for $400.

What does this mean for you? As an early adopter, you always pay the maximum price that the product will ever be worth. Think about that for a second. Out of all the possible prices for said product, you’re paying the highest that it will ever be.

You’re essentially paying a premium for time. A premium just to be able to hold the product in your hand a little earlier than someone else. The actual product doesn’t change whether you buy it now or later.


Immediate Loss of Value


Not only do you pay maximum price, you lose value almost immediately once you buy an electronic device. Electronics depreciate at an incredible rate because tech gadgets become obsolete very quickly. Once the iPhone 20 comes out, the demand for the iPhone 19 plummets.

But you also have to consider the resale value of an electronic device. How much would you be willing to pay for a brand new iPhone 20? Compare that to how much you’d be willing to pay for a used iPhone 20. They might be in the same mint condition, but the fact that something is “new” vs. “used” How To Check New & Used Devices For Problems Using Simple Tips & Software Are you thinking of purchasing a new or used smartphone or computer? While you absolutely must test used electronics, even brand new smartphones and computers can suffer from defects that you may not notice until... Read More immediately detracts from its value.

So when you adopt early, you’re paying maximum value but you will rarely be able to fetch that same price if you were to resell it. Its value is lost and the price will only continue to drop over time.


Compatibility Issues


The innovation brought on by new technology is often a double-edged sword. On the one hand, advancements are great and they pave the way for devices that are better, faster, and more versatile. However, those same advancements come with compatibility issues that can prove inconvenient at best or unusable at worst.

For example, when HDMI first came out it required an entirely new port, which meant a lot of the current monitors at the time weren’t able to make use of the technology. To be an early adopter of HDMI, you needed to upgrade a lot of your electronics to be compatible with the new cable.

When new technology comes onto the scene, early adopters will live in a bubble for a while as the rest of the technology world catches up, and they’ll suffer from compatibility issues during that period. This is why backwards compatibility is so important — as was the case with USB 3.0 backwards compatibility USB 3.0: Everything You Need to Know USB 3.0 beats USB 2.0 in so many ways. Here's everything you need to know about why you should always pick USB 3.x when possible. Read More — but backwards compatibility isn’t always possible.


Greater Risk of Defects


Some of my friends consider “early adopters” to be synonymous with “beta testers”. Of course they’re being facetious, but there’s a little bit of truth to the statement. For those of you familiar with the software development cycle What Does "Beta Software" Really Mean? What does it mean for a project to be in beta and should you care? Read More , you know that beta testers are often the final round of users who seek out bugs, glitches, and defects before the product goes live.

Well, beta testing isn’t flawless and bugs tend to slip through the cracks, even into the release product. As an early adopter, you’re putting yourself at risk because you might encounter one of these bugs. Those who don’t adopt early can sit back, wait a few months to see if any major issues arise, and buy the product when everything is working as intended.

Victims of Marketing Hype



The last concern as an early adopter is that the product may not be what you expected it to be. Marketing is a powerful force and it can make a product seem a lot better than it really is. If you’ve ever been victim to an overhyped release, whether it was a movie, video game, tech gadget, or whatever else, you know what I’m talking about.

In short, marketing will often raise your expectations far beyond what the product can actually deliver. You love the idea of what’s being sold, but you may not like the execution of it when it’s finally in your hand. If you don’t adopt early, you can wait to hear what people think and determine whether the product is as good as advertised. As an early adopter, you’re shooting in the dark.


If I had to sum it all up in one word, it would be uncertainty. Being an early adopter is a gamble. You have some idea of what to expect, but there’s no way to be sure that what you’re buying is what you think you’re getting. You end up paying maximum price for something that could very well fall short of expectations, and that’s why I’m not one who adopts early.

Are you an early adopter? If so, what do you say to these points? And if not, what other downsides to early adoption do you see? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image Credit: Quintin Doroquez via Flickr, Money Basket Via Shutterstock, Down Arrow Via Shutterstock, Guy With Cables Via Shutterstock, Shattered iPhone Via Shutterstock, Marketing Word Cloud Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Buying Tips, Web Trends.

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  1. Partlan
    January 23, 2017 at 3:17 am

    I think almost all of the mentioned drawbacks (excluding price) would also apply to very late adopters as well. Maybe an article describing the sweet spot would be useful.

  2. tinkicker
    October 21, 2013 at 2:36 am

    Early adoption is alright if you have money to burn...but who does in this economy? More often, it's a third grade mentality of "I was first!". Meh. Who really cares? Six months down the road when you're soaked in a contract with a new phone or whatever that's not what you thought it'd're still first alright...first to be dissatisfied.
    These are the same kinds of people who buy a new car just because it's new, or for the new car smell or some other fool-and-their-money-soon-parted "reason". It boils down to ego.

    • Joel L
      October 22, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      I agree. Most early adopters are slaves to the "I had it before it was cool" mentality. Of course there are early adopters who do it out of support for a company and there are early adopters who do so because they truly believe in a product, but they're the minority.

      If you have money to burn, go for it, but if you DON'T have money to burn and you STILL adopt early for the status factor, I will start rolling my eyes!

  3. Druv B
    October 19, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    Early adopters are beta testers. Sure you may sound cool having a new device to brag about among friends, but that same device becomes old generation when a new version is out in 3 months time.

  4. Manuth C
    October 19, 2013 at 2:50 am

    but I think they're still better than those Apple fanboys waiting in line trying to get new Apple gear just because it's newly released

  5. Jp
    October 19, 2013 at 2:13 am

    There are even worse types of early adopters...the ones who buy tech because of the promise of commercials instead of researching reviews and specs.

  6. anonymous
    October 19, 2013 at 2:10 am

    I can't afford the cost of being an early adopter. I was once, (anyone remember MSX computers? A great idea but never took off, a concept ahead of it's time) . Right now I'm wondering how I can afford to buy a $300 to $400 notebook, hoping the prices will drop before year-end. There is a limit tho, if you wait for prices to hit rock bottom it's likely the product quality drops too.

    • Joel L
      October 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      That's a good point. You have to find the right balance between "I can wait a little longer for a deeper price drop" and "Waiting longer becomes detrimental". That decision depends on the individual and the particular product in question.

  7. Some Random person
    October 19, 2013 at 12:14 am

    Probably the only reason I had bought the new nexus early is because my old cheapo tablet was on the verge of sad death. And that the cheapo didn't have Google play. I don't regret buying it early. Although I once got a boot loop and had factory reset it, luckily I'd only had it for three day ;-;

  8. Rohan R.
    October 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Actually, being an early adopter worked for me on the Galaxy S3. The CPU revisions became slower and slower as time continued, hence the declining price as well.

  9. Satyan B
    October 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Not an early adopter and I do agree with some of the points here.
    That is why I prefer waiting a few weeks to even a couple months and read reviews all over the net to see what problems others are facing and is it worth buying or not.
    But then there are glitches that are never fixed in some products, something that I have learned from personal experience.

    • Joel L
      October 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      Your reasons are the same reasons why I always buy last generation tech. There's just so much more research available out there for past products than recent products.

  10. Scott H
    October 18, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I prefer to wait a good 3 to 5 week before getting new tech because then they fix the issue out and lower the price a bit and you get to see if the tech is like that they advertise it or it could turn out to be a lie and crap and miss selling

  11. Sriz
    October 18, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    But without early adopters the company loses a chance to earn money and improve upon the next version of products.According to your logic if people wouldve waited for price to drop/next iteration when the original iPod was launched (when apple was in huge looses) , we wudnt have seen apple in the way it is today.

    • Joel L
      October 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm

      Apple isn't a very good example to use there because the current version of Apple caters to an "early adoption" audience. That mentality is a huge chunk of their marketing demographic. If any other company were to come down to the point where early adopters determined their survival as a company, 99% of the time they'd crumble.

      That said, if you support a company and you want to be an early adopter of their products, by all means go for it. I, personally, wouldn't have any problems being an early adopter for a company that has proven themselves reliable and worthy in my eyes as a customer. I just haven't found a company like that yet.

  12. Yutao T
    October 18, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I'm not an early adopter for the most of the time but I don't completely agree with the value part here. The first batch of some turn-out-to-be-great products are of really high value years later. Consider Apple I or iPhone 1 as good examples. So if you dig deeper into the value of products, you'll find out they don't always decrease over the years, and this is especially the case for first batch of products.

    • Joel L
      October 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm

      While that's true, there's just no reliable way to determine which products will be MORE valuable down the line and which ones will be LESS valuable down the line. Again, it comes down to uncertainty, and being an early adopter because Product A might be worth thousands in a few years is nothing more than a straight up gamble. Anyone remember Beanie Babies?