2 min read

Why I'm not a technology early adopter

Years of writing about technology has taught me to be more, not less, cautious about new gadgets or software.
Why I'm not a technology early adopter
Photo by Clint Patterson / Unsplash

I’m not an early adopter.

Early adopters are people who feel they must own the latest devices. They think they run ahead of the pack. They upgrade devices and software before everyone else.

Early adopters use the latest phones. They buy cars with weird features.

In the past they would queue up in the wee small hours for iPhones, iPads or games consoles. There was a time when they’d go to midnight store openings to get the newest version of Microsoft Windows a few hours earlier.

You have to ask yourself why anyone would do that.

The pre-order brigade

Nowadays they are the people who order devices before they are officially available.

In practice their computers often don't work because they are awash in beta and alpha versions of software screwing things up.

And some of their kit is, well, unfinished.

Computer makers depend on early adopters. They use them as guinea pigs.

Early adopter first to benefit, first to pay

Marketing types will tell you early adopters will buy a product first to steal a march over the rest of humanity. They claim they will be the first to reap the benefits of the new product. It will make them more productive or live more enjoyable lives.

This can be true. Yet early adopters often face the trauma of getting unfinished, unpolished products to work. Often before manufacturer support teams have learnt the wrinkles of their new products.

Some early adopters race to buy a device that turns out to be a dud and is quickly abandoned by the market and soon after by its maker.

Paying a higher price

There’s another reason computer makers love early adopters — they pay more for technology.

New products usually hit the market with a premium price. Once a product matures, the bugs eliminated and competition appears, profit margins are slimmer.

Companies use high-paying early adopters to fund their product development.

Being an early adopter is fine if you enjoy playing with digital toys. If productivity isn’t as important to you as being cool with a certain crowd. It's OK if you have the time and money to waste making them work. If you can afford to take a risk on a dud product.

I don’t. I prefer to let others try things first. Let computer makers and software developers iron out the wrinkles while the product proves its worth. Then I’ll turn up with my money.

In technology the early bird pays the bill.