Why I’ll Never Be An Early Adopter

Early Adopter Cartoon

If you’re like me and either work in or are fascinated by technology, you’re always intrigued by “the next big thing.” Everyday we’re inundated with technology commercials, acquisitions, and product announcements. Despite these innumerable advancements and related media coverage, I’m still reluctant to become an early adopter. In my mind, early adopters go out of their way to buy unpolished technology for frivolous reasons.

In part, my refusal to adopt early is based on my belief that many people buy cutting-edge products not out of appreciation for the technology, but just to look cool. Let me tell a short story. The other day I saw a man in Google Glass sitting in front of a garage feeding pigeons. Why was this man, who most likely never took an interest in pigeons, feeding the birds in the rain? Because he was filming it on his Glass. Will this video make the world a better place, or is this man just showing off the fact that he has Glass and watching him feed pigeons is “cool?”

New technology seems to be fundamentally changing the way people behave. People like the man in my anecdote are now feeding pigeons just because they can film the moment using Glass. Is this individual’s video adding value to the world? Will seeing this “amazing” video change someone’s day? Probably not.

Beyond these concerns, I also find many new tech products to be unpolished. Sticking with the Google Glass example, I’ve used it before, and yes I think it’s a unique product. That being said I don’t think it’s anywhere close to where it needs to be to deliver daily value. For every new innovation and product there is going to be backlash and issues.

Prominent among new technology issues are bugs and glitches, which are numerous in newer tech. I don’t want to pay to be a beta tester. As a risk-averse shopper who values quality and functionality, I prefer well-vetted products. You won’t see me buying Fitbit Flex or Galaxy Gear anytime soon, not because I’m an Apple fan boy or a Microsoft employee, but rather because I consider neither of those products to be aesthetically or functionally “ready.”

I will admit to wanting a smartwatch or device to complement my aging phone iPhone 4s, and it’s been tough to resist the Pebble Steel and the upcoming Moto 360. I’m interested to see what Apple launches (insert fanboy joke here) because I suspect they will build on the efforts of other companies by combining fitness elements from wearables like Fitbit and Fuelband with basic smartwatch features.

I appreciate Apple’s wait and see approach, because I think that companies should focus on making products that make sense and provide value rather than just rushing to market and trying to be the first. Same with early adopters. There will be people rushing to test out new, “status symbol” technology, but I’ll be hanging back and waiting for products that provide tried-and-true value.