What Sort of Technology Adopter Are You?

Innovator or laggard? Do you hold back because you have refined tastes or because you are late to see the potential?

Simon Pitt
OneZero
Published in
6 min readSep 20, 2021

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Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

There’s a part of me that thinks one day I’ll have to get an Apple Watch. I don’t want one. I don’t need one. I don’t even use a regular watch, so it wouldn’t make any sense to strap several hundred dollars of tech to my wrist and commit myself to upgrading it every year or so. I see friends with smartwatches and have no desire for one. Yet I have this creeping suspicion that one day Apple Watch will somehow inveigle itself into my life and onto my wrist.

“Have to” buy one is perhaps over-stating it. I don’t think Tim Cook will dispatch agents to kidnap my loved ones, sending me photos of body parts over iMessage until I leave an unmarked bag of cash at an Apple Store and strap on an Apple Watch. But I have a feeling the technology will gradually become more ubiquitous until not having one becomes a statement. It’s true that in 2021 no one forces me to have a computer, a smartphone, high-speed internet, a Twitter account, and so on. But to not have those things is to exclude yourself from parts of the world that you might want access to. Services and features will become exclusive. Things won’t work as well without one. Network effects will make it socially awkward not to have one.

Part of the reason I fear this is because it has become the way the world works. The world’s richest company understands technology adoption curves and makes multi-year plans to drive us along them. New products aren’t products, they’re future profit categories.

According to one model, we all sit in one of five categories: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, or laggards. These terms refer to how quickly we start using (or purchasing) new technology. Tell me the model of your first smartphone and I can tell which category you are in.

The adoption curve, also known as the diffusion of innovations, and the hype cycle (Source: Wikipedia)

These categories aren’t absolute states. We might be innovators when it comes to smartphones, but laggards when it comes to smart fridges. But broadly, according to…

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Simon Pitt
OneZero

Media techie, software person, and web-stuff doer. Head of Corporate Digital at BBC, but views my own. More at pittster.co.uk