The Joys and Pitfalls of Early Adoption.

As I’ve confessed to previously I’m a notorious Sony fanboy. Whilst this was done initially out of a boy love that grew from the hours that I spent playing on my trusty old Playstation it soon took a turn in another direction. What I’ve come to notice from many companies is that they will release their initial product and then revise as it matures. Typically this means nothing but good things for the consumer, but more recently it’s taken a much darker turn.

I guess the first piece of kit that I bought as an early adopter would have to have been the Playstation 2. I remember eagerly waking up at an extraordinary hour to rush out to grab one as soon as the stores had opened. I wasn’t the first one there by a long shot and the price had even dropped from the ludicrous height of $750 to $720. After convincing my parents that I could afford to pay them back I picked my shiny new PS2 and a single game whilst parting with my debit card until it was all paid back. I had justified the purchase to myself because of the backwards compatibility, but the possibility of turning it into a fully fledged computer as well sealed the deal. Whilst I never got the kit (since it cost more than the console itself even after it had been released for over 3 years) I did work with people who had got them, and by all accounts it was a great platform to learn game development on.

My early adoption of Sony’s products paid dividends more recently when I purchased my PSP and PS3. The PSP came riddled with security holes that allowed me to run all sorts of homebrew applications on it (video streaming over WiFi being my favourite) and the PS3 came with backwards compatibility and card readers. It’s up for debated whether or not the premium I paid for these products, about $100 on the PSP and $400 on the PS3, are worth it but since I was going to make the plunge anyway they’re just value-adds for me, which is always nice.

This is not to say that my habit of early adoption for new tech hasn’t been without its pitfalls. A few years ago I was in the market for a new phone and it just so happened that Motorola had released their new slim RAZR phone. Since I had worked in retail for 6 years selling mobile phones I knew Motorola was pretty good at making your basic phones and with it being so slim it was an instant sell for me. The writing was on the wall when the first one I received didn’t recognise my sim card, and had to be replaced that day. The second handset did its job admirably but it was plagued with meta-problems like the sync software only ever working once and certain features, like the predictive text, going awry shortly after.

I remember one of my university lecturers showing me an image similar to this:

diffusionofinnovationImage used under the GNU Free Documentation License 1.2

Although this one has been trimmed to fit a traditional bell curve it still demonstrates the idea that around 16% of people are what you could call early adopters. What really got to me was the demographics that came with these percentages with the youngsters like myself filling the Early Adopters and Early Majority categories but rarely in the Innovators. It would seem that the big risk takers are in fact established firms and make their business from being on the cutting edge.

The pace of innovation that the IT industry continues to set is probably what keeps me in this industry. Anyone who knows me will tell you that if I’m not challenged for long enough I’ll start to shift my gaze elsewhere, something that has left me with an interest trail of jobs on my resume. Realistically IT is the only industry I could get away with doing something like this since the standards are always shifting, heavens help me if I tried this in accounting.

Not that I have anything against accountants…… 🙂

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