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Observations December 5, 2011 10:10 pm

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll finish one day

Apologies for the prolonged absence. I’ve been chewing on a thought for some time, but it never seemed ‘quite ready.’ And the more I thought about it, the more erudite I thought I had to be in this post since I had been gone so long. But fear not, I decided to just take the plunge and make you privy to this random thought that’s been swirling around in my head:

What does it mean to be ‘an early adopter?’ Are most ‘early adopters’ really tech-savvy or do other factors like relevancy have a stronger play on adoption rates?

Example: Pinterest.  I’ve been happily pinning since this summer, but at the time I thought I was the last person on earth ‘invited’ to join Pinterest.  I’d been reading about Pinterest on people’s Twitter feeds and blogs, and I was just so frustrated I couldn’t get an invite!

Needless to say, I finally got my invite and I’ve been obsessed ever since.  And I’ve started to notice something- I’m not the last person on earth to be ‘invited’ to join Pinterest.  When I was pining for my invite to Pinterest, all I could read about was how much the people already on Pinterest loved it- and now that I’m happily on board, I’m noticing more and more people exclaiming how they just recently figured out what Pinterest was/just joined.

Am I an early adopter?

Compared to people who joined before me, no.  I was far behind the curve.  Compared to the people who are just finding out?  Perhaps.  But it has nothing to do with my technical savvy, it was everything to do with my location and lifestyle.

I live in NYC and am surrounded by people who truly are early adopters- the people who not only try things before other people, but the one’s who are creating the new and exciting things.  I date a guy with his own start-up (check ’em out-!) and he’s constantly making fun of my being ‘late to the game’ on tech and start-up news.  I was more likely to find out about Pinterest because of my environment and lifestyle.

The people I know who are just discovering Pinterest mostly don’t live in a major hub and aren’t surrounded with the same ‘always on’ environment that is NYC.  They’re probably more tech-savvy than I am in many ways, but because of their environment/lifestyle, they found out about Pinterest much later.

And I can’t even imagine what my adoption of Pinterest would have been like if I lived in Palo Alto- or on the opposite end of the spectrum- Florence, SC.

Based on my adoption of Pinterest, am I part of the early adopters/early majority or more along the lines of the early majority/late majority– or even the laggards?

Here’s my grand thought I’ve been swirling around for so long- I think the adoption curve needs adjusting. My adoption of services (with Pinterest as the most recent example) generally have little to zero to do with my openness or savvy with new technology/advancements, but more to do with my environment and lifestyle.

The adoption curve for a service or product should have multiple curves- I’d argue how and when people in different areas- like Palo Alto or New York or Florence, SC- first adopt a service/product is vastly different- as is how and when the adoption curve changes from innovators to early adopters to early majority to late majority to laggards.

One area or group of people could see a very fast acceleration from innovators to early adopters while another area/group of people could see a much slower rate of adoption- shouldn’t the ‘adoption curve’ really be a series of curves that start at different points in time and rise/fall according to adoption by major environments/lifestyle?

Hopefully artistic enough to illustrate a point- many different start points and many different adoption rates.  People can be both early adopters and the late majority- based on what’s relevant to them.  I’m most likely in the early/late majority for joining Pinterest based off people who joined Pinterest in my circle of relevancy in NYC.  On the other hand, I’m probably an early adopter/early majority when I compare myself to people in a smaller area.

So who are the true innovators and early adopters?  Is adoption more akin to 80% relativity to your environment/lifestyle and 20% technically savvy than 100% technically savvy?

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