The Curse of the Early Adopter (Video)


We all like to get new stuff, right? Over time, new stuff turns into old stuff, and old stuff isn’t cool (at least not until it’s “retro”, then it’s cool all over again).

One of the perks of being a product reviewer is the ability to play with evaluate new products and new technology — sometimes before it’s even released to the general public.  Alas, we have to send back our shiny new toys evaluation units far too soon.

It’s not a fair comparison

While we try to be as honest and unbiased as we can about the products we review, there is one signification difference in the products we test, and what you buy: investment.

While you are investing in a somewhat expensive product that you’ll probably use for at least a year or more, reviewers might get the hardware for free, for a couple weeks anyway.

That’s not the case all the time, in fact, Pocketnow editors, more than other sites I visit, seem to  do just what you do: invest our own money into products — not only so we can show them to you, but so we can get early, hands-on experience with them.

How about that Nexus Q?

The Nexus Q is a perfect example. If you don’t know, the Q is essentially a large, heavy ball that plugs into your TV and speakers, and lights up. That’s about it. It really doesn’t have a user interface to speak of, and you have to have an Android-powered tablet or smartphone, a Google account, and media stored in Google services (YouTube, Play Music, or Play Movies) to be able to do anything with it.

Nexus Q

No, this isn’t really a Nexus Q, but it looks pretty much the same.

We didn’t know that much about it when Google showed it off at Google I/O 2012. But lots and lots of us pre-ordered it over a month in advance, throwing down more money than the new Nexus 7 tablet. Why? For a chance to hold the new hardware in our own hands.

After people started getting the Q and reviewing it, it was obvious that it didn’t do enough. Google went back to the drawing board with it, but since they already had it ready to ship, they sent it out — for free. Wow.


The Nexus Q isn’t alone. There are a lot of examples of technology that sounded very alluring, but didn’t really pan out once we started to see it in action, and once the novelty had worn off. Take 3D for example.


SPOILER ALERT! Even being re-created in 3D wasn’t enough to keep the Titanic from sinking — again

Everyone was going gangbusters about 3D. Movies were released in 3D. Some movies were re-released in 3D. Some movies were scripted just to use crazy 3D gags to get you to buy tickets. Eventually 3D started coming to TVs, and eventually to smartphones. The few 3D phones that we had were able to display 3D “stuff” on a flat screen, which is pretty impressive, and they included stereoscopic cameras (that’s fancy-talk for “3D”). YouTube even lets you upload 3D videos and formats them for playback using various 3D technologies including the old blue and red glasses.

After the novelty wore off all we were left with was a lower-resolution screen and pictures and video that took up twice as much space as their 2D siblings.

Other complications

I was an early adopter of the PayPal Pay Here app. It’s like Square, but with payment processing through PayPal. I finally got in the test group and then Jelly Bean came along. The app wasn’t compatible.

I got a Nest learning thermostat. It’s a great product that has a cool app — but although it will install on my tablets it won’t run on them because the “screen size is not supported”. Other apps scale to fit, but not Nest.

I’m a custom ROMmer, CyanogenMod is my distro of choice. Back when I was flashing custom ROMs on my brand new Galaxy Nexus I ended up “burning out” my NFC secure element. No, it’s not really “burnt out”, but since the keys don’t match I basically locked myself out of my Google Wallet. Google’s solution? Buy a new phone, and don’t root it this time! Sheesh!

Although I love being an early adopter, most of the time the cost of entry is very high, the potential for failure is a big unknown, and the novelty can wear off a lot faster than one would have predicted. Nevertheless, Pocketnow is here to help you through the quagmire that exists on the cutting edge!

What about you?

What have you “adopted” before it was ready for prime-time? Did it cost more than it should have? Will you do it again?

Make sure you share your story in the comments below!


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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.