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” 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.
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 — 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, 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