Monday, February 13, 2006

Taking the bleeding edge far too seriously

People incorporate new technology in their lives at various rates:
  1. "Innovators," comprising some 2.5% of all adopters, are the first to use the new technology;
  2. "Early adopters" come next, comprising approximately 13.5% of all users;
  3. "Early majority" members are a large group, comprising some 34% of all users;
  4. "Late majority" users follow the early majority and also comprise about 34% of all adopters; and
  5. "Laggards," comprising some 16% of all adopters, are the last to begin using the new technology.
It makes for a pretty graph.

Innovators are also frequently known as "The Bleeding Edge" or occasionally "Idiots Who Throw Away Their Hard-earned Money." I've also heard tech people refer to "Laggards" as "The Brain Dead." It's not pretty when you're trying to get everyone and their grandmother to use your new web site to sort their socks, or similar innovations, and they stubbornly resist.

These categories are not new thinking in marketing: the paper above is citing 1943 work. Depending on the issue, I'm an Early Adopter or an Early Majority. This means I won't buy an HDTV for a long, long time, but I'll still buy one before half of America does. It also means that I didn't buy an Apple Newton ("weave... me... a... cone... you... cupid... bat..."), preferring to wait for a Palm, then a Handspring, and in a week or so, a Treo. I had several friends who bought the original Newton, and I thought they were idiots. It was the size of a brick and it barely worked.

I'm reminded of these marketing categories when I read this story, about people choosing to allow themselves to have electronic tags implanted inside their bodies. Sure, there are privacy implications, and health implications, and perhaps they should reconsider their glib acceptance of technology. But that's not my initial focus. Right now, I have a barely-working cell phone that I want to smash into tiny little pieces. Why would anyone put something into your body that might break? Why put something inside you that cannot be upgraded or replaced, when you have a choice? Get out of the bleeding edge group now, while you still can!

(Image from initial cited article)


Anonymous wrd said...

I guess my dog lives on the bleeding edge. She has an implanted id-tag. And I remember my dad paying a hundred bucks for one of the first electronic calculators. I give thanks to those who are out there, willing to try stuff (and prove it's safe-- or not so safe-- for the rest of us).

Tuesday, 14 February, 2006  
Blogger travis said...

yeah, my step-dad, too! he was so excited to have a $75 four-function calculator from Texas Instruments. It weighed about a pound.

Tuesday, 14 February, 2006  

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