Why you should not be an early adopter

Orrett Morgan
Jul 22, 2009
Updated • Dec 1, 2012

Every so often you have a gadget or technological device that sets the wire news on fire. Recently we’ve been hearing much ado about Windows 7, iPhone 3GS, OSX Snow Leopard, SSD drives, OLED TV, HD cell phones and need I mention the Palm Pre and Blackberry’s first all touchscreen phone.

The common trend among these gadgets is they are all new and still in experimental stage. I know it can be tempting to jump in line at your local Best Buy when an iPhone 3GS is released, or refreshing that page every few seconds until you can preorder Windows 7 from Amazon. But there are some risks involved and that is why its not always the safest thing to do to adopt a new technology or device early.

The first problem is price. There is no need to discuss the $500 and $600 premiums people were paying on iPhones when they first came out, only to have their devices outdated a few months later by the 3G. But what was most bitter to the early adopters was the fact that the device went subsidized.

I could also mention SSD which (although a nice technology) has been held back by its exorbitant price. I’m still trying to figure out how a 256GB SSD costs as much as a notebook computer? The protection offered by an SSD is good, I won’t deny that, but still it doesn’t justify the price unless you’re housing the President’s birth certificate.

Even software isn’t immune. I can’t count the amount of people who preordered Windows Vista, and after a week with the software wish they had stuck with XP. Don’t get me wrong, I have never had any problems with Vista but many of the people who upgraded failed to read the system requirements and got pissed when their computers began to crash. Yes we’re hearing a similar tune with Windows 7 and OSX Snow Leopard. So far the former is carrying more of the buzz and everyone is talking about how it fixes all the problems that were found in Vista.

I’m not saying Windows 7 isn’t promising (I am using it to write this post), but Vista has finally stabilized so for those who had serious problems with Vista at first, might want to think twice before taking a chance with Windows 7 on their main system.

Need we talk about the gadgets? I have heard countless stories of peoples iPhone 3GS combusting in their pockets, Palm Pre screens flying off when they open it or their Blackberry Storms “SurePress” screens becoming unsure.

Yes I admit I’m guilty of buying a Pre a week after it was released, but only because I needed it for my job (I write for a Palm Pre blog), and yes I have reserved myself a copy of Windows 7, but only because I have been testing out the beta for the past 4 months now and I have dual boot so I’m safe.

I’m not saying you should never adopt early, but if there is anything that the “ring of death” on the Xbox 360, crappy Wiimotes and not to mention PS3 overheating problems have taught us, you might want to think twice before actually getting inline at your local gadget store.

So as I’ve said before, unless you are prepared for problems, wait a few months, otherwise you might find yourself sitting in the waiting room with a crouch on fire, enough said!


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  1. Peter said on July 25, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    R u guys ok? No update since many days.

    1. Martin said on July 26, 2009 at 1:39 am

      We switched web servers and it can take between 24-48 hours before the new IP will be served to all users.

  2. Mac SSD Guy said on July 23, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Early adopters take ALOT of pain rushing to out to buy the 1st REV. A iteration of any product. Smart money waits for the initial gotcha’s to show up and get fixed before it’s the _smart_ time to buy in.

    I’d disagree on SSD drives, In the first months of 2009 the market pulled together, the technology and controller chips took a HUGE step foward. Few peope need the cited exampe of a 256GB SSD – especially in a laptop. With 64GB drives easily between $150-200 there’s no better time than now. SSD’s ain’t “The Future”, they aren’t beeding-edge. There here now and the benefits are dramatic, immedate, and real-world satisfying.

  3. Orrett Morgan said on July 23, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    @ jfjb

    I’m trying to understand your point. When I used the word “subsidized” I meant that the phone picked up the cost for the phone instead of passing it onto the customer. Its a term that is commonly used in cellular phone service.

    @ Nailuj

    I did mention that I was trying to make a point. While everyone didn’t have these problems, I did not make up any of the info. This has been confirmed by many news organizations including the manufacturers themselves.

    @ Charles Kane

    I was not talking about Windows 7 RC. I was talking about buying the actual software when its released in October 2009. If you’re dual booting (like me), then its safe, but I would not advise anyone to jump into Windows 7 unless they are prepared to part with older software and peripherals.

  4. Charles Kane said on July 23, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I early adopt software. What’s the issue? Its usually free, if it doesn’t work – remove it (or at the very worst restore from a cloned image – it’s really easy guys! – takes maybe 20mins.
    As for Win 7 – c’mon your approach is primitive for a site called “ghacks”. Its an RC not even a beta, you can safely dual boot, it’s free, and again I can restore a whole partition in minutes. Because I do it, people around me learn to do it and become better critics and users of software.

  5. Joe said on July 23, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    As I approach 40 I no longer see the point of upgrading unless the new version has some previously unavailable benefit that I can take advantage of. Vista, or Vista v2 offer nothing for me. Heck, It took me more than 4 years before I finally budged from Office 97. I just didn’t see the point. Does anyone use all the features in office? Who are they building this app for?

    Early adoption is for the young (and usually relatively poor). So I’ll let those poor slobs pay the $600 for an IPhone while my trusty old BB does everything I need it to do.

    Dante, as for the car I suppose I am almost an early adopter buying a Mzada PRHT MX-5 GT of which only ~2000/year are made. And unlike the Aztek (of which I have no opinion but is regularly voted the ugliest car ever made :) I get great gas mileage, handling, hard-top convertible and people (ie: girls, ahem, women) like to ride it.


  6. Taco said on July 23, 2009 at 7:29 am

    This article brought a smile to my face. All my friends and family come to me for tech advice and I always say “wait and see”. Like the Xbox 360, I drove by before the store was to open and brought some friends coffee and doughnuts who had waited in line all night. At lunch time they called and said they got the black screen of death and were packing it up to send back.

    I say wait for 1.1 or 2.0. Beta is for those who are into S&M.

    Our company still “downgrades” all Vista machines to XP and we stay away from 64-bit on workstations because of “patch guard” and drivers. We plan to continue this for the foreseeable future and consider 7 to be Vista (which is still VERY buggy). Good rule of thumb, if the corporations aren’t doing it then you should think twice.

  7. jfjb said on July 23, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Part II
    ( I didn’t get a chance to finish my earlier comment about “…the device went subsidized.” )

    To subsidize:
    To support through subsidies, “The arts in Europe are heavily subsidized”
    To secure the assistance of by granting a subsidy, as of nations or military forces.

    Oh well, maybe I missed something in my ESL class; is it my brain?
    Sorry, I am an early adopter of my brain. :-))

  8. jfjb said on July 23, 2009 at 12:42 am

    “…the device went subsidized.”

    I’m not sure to understand or even to be able to grasp the meaning of this verb — subsidize — applied to the iPhone.
    I must have lived in a cave for a few hours, sorry for my English, when ‘they’. changed the definition of that content word that denotes an action, occurrence, or state of existence.

  9. Roman ShaRP said on July 23, 2009 at 12:11 am

    It’s true for many products, especially for the new Windows versions. People even talk about “Two SP rule”, – don’t use next Windows version until second SP comes out.

    When Skype 4 came out recently, I looked to known issues and was shocked – they were really serious.

    AFAIK many new phones isn’t that perfect when they came out first, better wait for some time and get better version.

    But sometimes there is happy news. In 2006 I run Opera 9 from betas and was satisfied with them. Some other betas (even alphas) delivers well functions and quality.

    … And some times you just can wait… when it comes to new game, for example :)

  10. Guest said on July 22, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    That’s why I still have upgrade to FF3.5.1 yet.

  11. Nailuj said on July 22, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Some wise words in this article but I found it to be a tad overblown and perhaps unnecessary in part. As a writer, I find hyperbole rather a difficult device to employ; it can easily seem rather more like mere exaggeration to the untrained eye.

    As for the topic under discussion, I tend not to be an early adopter of software (a.k.a. unpaid beta tester), but when it comes to hardware I am quite often tempted.

    “It’s been out in Japan for two weeks, where’s yours?”

    Words to live by, there.

  12. Orrett Morgan said on July 22, 2009 at 6:08 pm


    Well even with Windows 7 most of the people who would like to upgrade are upgrading on the reason that they think it will fix their Vista problems. Right now the Government is rolling out Vista on many of its computers.

    As I said before I’m dual booting Windows 7 Ultimate and Vista Premium and I have had no troubles with 7 except for a minor printer problem and it not recognizing some of my software. But other then that its very good.

    As Martin said, if you have the money and all its good, but I’m not Bill Gates and I’m sure most people here are not so wait it out a bit unless you’re prepared for whatever comes.

  13. Rush said on July 22, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    It really isn’t even me anymore. True, in the end I wind up with every gadget known to man, but usually 1 model back from cutting edge. Almost always bought cheap from some douche who bought it because brand new and had no idea how to use it, but is ready to jump out and buy their next brand new gadget that they’ll never figure out.
    Computer hardware is not a good edge to be out on. Case in point: The Phenom B2 glitch. A true pain in the azz for system builders. Yet Beta testing software, often times, winds up being a great edge to be out on. Personally, I would say that it depends on what one is adopting early.
    The kids, however, are another story. They always want to be the first one with the new phone, handheld or so on. I have 6 very technically correct children that save up their own money (which used to be mine), to make their own mistakes, which I wind up spending hours figuring out so they wont leave it to collect dust right next to the E2, TX, Treo, blackjack, either of the Tilt’s, PSP’s, couple blackberry’s and a STACK of Razor’s. (The recycling bin) I guess it’s good to have some of us kind of thrown out there as unwilling early adopters. Otherwise nobody would have figured out the fixes that the producers didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t. Microsoft would have never published that the cure for the red ring of death was as simple as a towel.
    Great article though, and sound advice.

  14. Martin said on July 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    If you got the money it should not be a problem. if you do not have it you can be in for some long-lasting trouble. I made some pretty good choices in the past like the Google G1 phone and some pretty stupid ones like buying Sega’s Dreamcast the day it came out (awesome system but to early at that time) or the SSD drive which is slowing down my computer every now and then.

  15. Gil said on July 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I’m not sure if I’m agreeing with you or disagreeing with you on this point, but by now I don’t consider Windows 7 to be early adoption, really. I also have been dual-booting the RC1 (okay, that part is early-adoption) but Win7 seems to be mostly like a very stable Vista. Upgrading from Vista to Win7 may be a waste of money for most, so that part of the early adoption rings true. But upgrading from XP to Win7 (which I’m doing, I pre-ordered because it was cheap, a very non-early-adoption factor there as well) feels to me more like sticking XP, and waiting until Vista until the final service pack. Perhaps I only feel that way because Win7 has become my main booting partition as of late.

    I learned not to early adopt when my brother bought a Sega Saturn and the system crashed and burned soon after. I found myself glad that Verizon doesn’t have the Palm Pre yet, because I was itching to get one but now find that I’m happy to wait a year or so until everything is ironed out (iTunes syncing, for one example).

  16. Cheryl said on July 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    You got it right. Money should always be a factor in any purchase. For me, I can never be an early adopter simply because I can’t afford it. Does it make me mad? Hell no. I won’t die if I don’t have the latest iPhone, Palm Pre, iPod, Digicam, etc. etc.

  17. DanTe said on July 22, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    But sometimes, being an early adopter is rewarding – if you have the financial resources to absorb the hit. Like cars, I bought the first and last model of the Pontiac Aztek. Only 200,000 were sold before it was discontinued. Now I tool around in a very unique car. It has it’s kinks, but hey, it’s all mine and “nobody else has the same dress” :)

    Than, I had also adopted the first and last Hitachi pda phone, the G1000. The first of it’s type, at US$700 – not subsidized by any phone company at all. Sure I don’t use this “pie plate” anymore. But when it was in use, I was the only one traveling WITHOUT a heavy laptop to reference secured databases.

  18. Orrett Morgan said on July 22, 2009 at 3:55 pm


    Most of the bugs in Vista have been fixed, same thing for the iPhone 3G (not 3GS). And the same thing goes for many of the other software and gadgets I mentioned.

    My simple point is unless you’re interested in a headache from your newly acquired gadget, wait a few months before you actually get it because not everyone is able to make a $300-$1000 and write it off when it starts to give problems.

  19. TheSlackerLounge said on July 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    That would be all fine and dandy if the manufacturers actually FIXED the bugs. Their fix though usually comes with the new model… which has new bugs… which will be fixed in the next version.

    Sometimes it’s fun to be an early adopter and most of the time I end up better, because I can resell my old gadget to the people who weren’t early adopters, which subsidizes the cost of my new gadget.

    Sorry man, I think this is a crap article. I disagree completely.

  20. Jack said on July 22, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    And when you’ve finished debating whether or not you really need it right away, think hard about whether you need it AT ALL!!

    I’m eternally amazed at the things which seem to become total necessities in people’s lives, when they didn’t even exist a few years ago. No wonder the country is knee deep in debt when so-called rational adults have to own every bit of new technological bling that comes along. Or that some gadget or software will immediately increase their efficiency, when the real tool needed is a very good look in the mirror.

  21. maliciouspixies said on July 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Yes Mum…

    Seriously, where’s the fun in that!

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