Definition

early adopter

An early adopter is a person who embraces new technology before most other people do. Early adopters tend to buy or try out new hardware items and programs, and new versions of existing programs, sooner than most of their peers. According to a theory called Diffusion of Innovations (DoI) formulated by Everett Rogers, early adopters make up 13.5 percent of the population.

Early adopters, while eager to explore new options in technology, are not the most daring, and are not especially prone to taking risks. That role, according to Rogers, is played by a small minority of people called innovators. Only one person in 40 is of this type. They are the people most likely to conceive and develop new methodologies and technologies, and who often end up running large IT corporations or founding new ones.

Early adopters and innovators have counterparts, known as laggards and Luddites, at the opposite end of the human spectrum. Laggards are slow or reluctant to embrace new technology because of disinterest or financial constraints. Luddites actively fear or loathe new technology, especially those forms they believe threaten existing jobs.

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This was last updated in August 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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