Thursday, March 24, 2011

the pros and cons of being an early adopter

Well, as my blog title mentions, I am an early adopter of hardware, services and software.  Actually now that I think of it, all of us here at are early adopters in one sense or the other.  Being in this sect has its benefits but also its negatives too.  Keep reading for some of the ins and outs us early adopters face.

You know who we are.  We're those guys/gals that are always tweeting about some service or website or app or gadget.  We're the ones that let you get your hands on a device you probably would never own.  We're the ones that usually benefit the most or lose the most on a product or service.

We are early adopters.

I would say that I've been an early adopter most of my tech life but in the last 5 years had the financial means to support my obsession/lifestyle.  As a kid, I took 'typing' lessons just to be able to get on an Apple IIe and play some Oregon Trail while my friends played baseball (i still played baseball but after typing classes, hehe).  As I was entering 7th grade, our county had just approved and built a brand new state of art high school (1992) that had iTV, modern library with over 25 PC computers and a computer lab with Macs and IBM PCs.  So I had the luck of being an early adopter on the web in the 7th grade.  As I grew up, I moved out of technology and then finally in college got back into it.

Around 2000 is when I started to really follow technology and the industry. I was always on forum boards and trying to be in the first group of 'firsts' to do a hack or try out a custom rom or firmware or gadget.  I always lusted for the latest and greatest that was out there and if I could afford it, purchase it and learn from it.

At this time (1998) we saw the beginings of the future of personal auction sites and selling items on the internet with the birth of eBay.   eBay has greatly helped the early adopter in  that we could purchase an item the day it was released and play around with it and then resell it back with a minimal loss.  Most of the early adopters I know treat their gadgets and toys with extreme care and in turn allows one to sell the item back at near purchase price (sometimes more if the item is in low supply or that popular).

Companies are now starting to realize that us early adopters are more than just geeks with a passion but also a great way to spread their brand/products.  If I find a product that no one has heard of, I am sure that people start to and mention it to everyone I interact with (I interact with A LOT of people and have become the authority on new tech at my job and friend/family group).  We are your free marketing.  All we want in return is for our voices/opinions on how to improve your product to be heard and to be able to interact with you on your product (twitter has really done a great job in this! i tweet a lot of major companies about their products and they reply back usually within a day).

So, what are some of the pros and cons of being the early adopter?


  • - Always get attention from all friends and relatives by having the latest popular or even unheard of device

  • - Ability to be the 'first' to publish guides and howtos and blog posts on said device.  Timing of articles/blogs in relation to release of device is VERY important on the web.  Again, first to publish and metadata tagging really help you get high on the Google search results. :)

  • - Geekiness/Fun factor. Nothing replaces the feeling of having a gadget or being in a beta/alpha program for an awesome program or device.  Selfish? Perhaps, but is it any worse than bragging about your kids A on a test or dogs first place in a show? :)

  • - First gen of a device factor.  Most people aren't aware but most of the time the first generation of a device or gadget is the most hackable since the revisions are done to resolve such loopholes or security flaws.  Also limited production devices hold their value over time too, think of it like how first edition books do.


  • - If the device or service is a failure, we usually lose all of that hard work or end up with a product that is no longer of any use or supported.

  • - Its expensive! New devices are not cheap, especially the ones I lust over.

  • - You can become that guy/girl.  The gadgets can take over your life. Keep a balance is what I say.

  • - Bugs/Design flaws.  Enough said, revisions most of the time are made to devices to resolve design flaws and to cut costs (ie more efficient designs, cheaper to produce; ie PS3)

To me, being an early adopter is not a choice or thought but just who I am. I like to be unique and ahead of the bar.  Yes, its not cheap being an early adopter but the fact that you can be in the 'first to publish' group can help offload the expenses with ad revenue from blogs and guides and reviews.

So, any of my readers early adopters? If so, do you think the benefits outweigh the negatives?