There two kinds of people, generally, who buy new gadgets, software, and hardware the moment it’s released. These people used to be called beta testers and they would be paid to use a product for a given amount of time, to try and break it and to return their criticisms to the design team so that improvements and fixes could be made before the product launched.
Companies realized that there were people breaking down the doors, so to speak, to become testers. These people would actually pay to play with products before anyone else had a chance to even see them. These people would actually pay more -much more in some cases – for an inferior, buggy product just for the bragging rights to say “I had it first”. These people are called early adopters.
There are actually a couple of varieties of early adopters. There’s the standard egotist who usually is an early adopter of gadgets, mainly so that he can feel better than his friends and peers. A lot of Apple items cause EAM (Early Adopter Mania), and there is no logical explanation than the ego of the fanboys (and girls). Who, with a normal psyche, would wait in line for 12 hours to buy a cell phone that, as standard practice, will come down in price in two weeks, will be buggy as hell until updates come out (in two weeks) and which will be in stock at most stores in half a month? These people wasted half of a full day of their life (or more) to spend extra money on something which they could brag about for a few weeks!
I’m not trying to mock Apple fanboys (or girls), I’m mocking the kind of person who stands in line for hours to buy a phone or a media player. This would be like people standing in line for hours to watch a new Star Wars movie, except that they’re only showing an unfinished version where the sound doesn’t link up and the special effects aren’t finished. And they have to pay an extra $10 a ticket.
The other early adopter is a little less rabid than the fanboy, a little less egotistical and, perhaps, a little less intelligent.
This is the person who wants the latest technology, and wants it now. Damn the technical specs, reviews, competitors or company’s current stock plunge! This is the person who bought LaserDisk. This is the fella’ that got a BetaMax. This even applies to the guy who bought a stand-alone HD-DVD player. If you are going to spend a large sum of money on a contested standard, you are gambling, and should do your research to increase your odds. If you don’t like to gamble, then wait till a format becomes accepted, the wrinkles are ironed out and the price drops.
So, obviously, I’m not usually an early adopter. Even for things that I really want, I usually listen to that voice that says wait. I didn’t get my Xbox 360 until recently – after the bricking and heat problems had been addressed. I buy used games. And I mock people who don’t follow suit. But don’t take my mockery as an indication that I want them to go away.
Early adopters drive the market, and every geek, gamer and gadget junkie thanks you for that, from the bottom of our malicious little hearts.
Every time one of us rips on the guy standing in line getting a new iPhone, he’s secretly sighing with relief that the massive amount of people in line mean that Apple can put money back into production, bringing costs, and prices, down.
For every bad joke, sarcastic comment and flame war about fanboys, we all are secretly thanking you for helping debug software and act as a live, open source Usability test which is just rabid enough to petition the companies for change.
We’ll still make fun of you. Buy deep inside, realize that, even though you may be a moronic egotist, you are also an adventurer, cutting a path with your checkbook to better and cheaper products for the rest of the free world. Kudos!