Tech's Late Adopters Prefer the Tried and True (New York Times, 12 March 2008)
Experts say that late adopters, or technology laggards, are not necessarily Luddites and can play a pivotal role in keeping the beat of innovation.
“Laggards have a bad rap, but they are crucial in pacing the nature of change,” said Paul Saffo, a technology forecaster in Silicon Valley. “Innovation requires the push of early adopters and the pull of laypeople asking whether something really works. If this was a world in which only early adopters got to choose, we’d all be using CB radios and quadraphonic stereo.”
Mr. Saffo said that aspects of the laggard and early adopter co-exist in most people. They may buy the latest digital camera, but end up using only a fraction of its features, or they may proudly tote an iPhone but still pay their bills by check, rather than online.
At 81, Jerry Gropp, an architect in the Seattle area, is a bit of both. He has a high-speed Internet connection through Comcast and Web e-mail accounts with Yahoo and Hotmail. But he still pays AOL for its dial-up service, largely because the desktop e-mail software packaged with it makes it easier to include maps, photographs and notes in the body of messages, rather than as attachments.
“I’ve been on this for about 20 years,” he said about AOL’s service. “In some ways, the old may be the best, combined with the new.”