The Perils of Being an Early Adopter

I’m an early adopter. I’m the product of an environment that made me this way. My father being one of the first industry analysts in this industry brought home a lot of cutting edge technology. He brought home many things that made it in the market and many that didn’t. When it came to technology I always had access to the latest and greatest. That environment fostered my love of technology and gadgets. I was the first on my block with a Nintendo. We were the first family with a car phone. We were the first on our block with a DVD player. We had more PCs than people in our household (this is currently true of tablets per person in my house which currently sits at 3:1). The list is nearly endless.

Now I’m an adult, with a family, but I still find myself craving for the latest gadget. It doesn’t matter what it is or if even prior to owning it I’ve concluded it will fail in the market. Something about the latest gadget draws me to at least try it out. In my line of work, I get the opportunity to test many of the new gadgets as they come out. This feeds the early adopter traits in me, but it is also a blessing and a curse. When you test out as much technology as I do, you see all the sides of the product. You see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Being an early adopter is often the thrill of the chase. There is a status that comes along with the latest and greatest. It is exciting. It is also depressing. This is the peril of being an early adopter.

The excitement and anticipation of most products are often followed up by a feeling of depression when the device does not live up to the hype. Unfortunately, this has been my experience with many wearables and smart watches for example. I get excited about the prospect of using them but then know they are capable of so much more that disappointment emerges. Even today as I watched Samsung unveil a number of gadgets that I will inevitably try I find myself feeling I already know what will happen.

They key to being an early adopter, I have learned, is to lower your expectations of many of the gadgets you desire and acquire. I did this with Google Glasses and was the better for it. I see the devices potential, but I knew it was a very early beta stage product. I have also tempered the number of gadgets I seek. I now only look to acquire and test the ones I think are important for either a technological reason or a market reason rather than get anything and everything. This helps my sanity as well as my bank account.

There is something to living a technological monasticism. For me, having to find a balance between the devices I will use and the ones I need to study for industry reasons is central. The contrast between an early adopters technological worldview and a late adopters is miles apart. My wife will use her iPhone until it literally dies. I try a new phone every few months. Miles apart.