I tend to be way behind the technology curve. Heck, I finally got a Wii two months ago, three years after the system came out. It’s not that I don’t like technology; I do and I’m always reading up on new gadgets to see what developments are coming. It’s just that I’ve found that keeping up with the pace of technology is not only exhausting, it’s expensive. Very rarely do I need the latest and greatest of anything so I just sort of hang back until I have a need, or until the product becomes so cost effective (or demonstrates significant value for me) that I can justify the purchase.
Some of my tech-loving friends like to tease me for being so far behind. When I whip out my “new” cell phone, it’s probably the same model they had three years ago. When I rave about a new video game I just discovered, they yawn and tell me they finished that one two years ago. When they see my laptop, they shrug and say, “Well, those features were top of the line last year.” I take the ribbing because I’ve learned that there are benefits to being a late adopter.
The most obvious reason to wait is that the price of all technology comes down as the product ages. The Wii was $249. I waited for the price to drop to $199. I bought a refurbished laptop on Apple that was the prior model for $800 less than the current model was selling for. My cell phone once sold for $100. I got it for $25 on sale after the newer models came out. And so on. I buy almost all of my DVD’s about three to six months after release for less than $10, compared to the new release price of $19.99. Whenever something is new it’s going to cost top dollar. If you just wait a few months, usually the newer and shinier models come out and the old ones are cheaper. Sometimes there’s not even much of a difference in the capabilities of the product, it’s only “defect” is that it’s not the newest model.
Waiting longer also increases the availability of cheaper accessories and components for your tech gadgets. By waiting three years to buy a Wii, I now have a full catalog of older (but still great) game titles to choose from that sell for fifteen to twenty-five dollars, some even less on sale. Those games were once as much as $50 when they were released. And there’s also a big market of used games (the ones my friends played years ago) selling for a lot less than new prices. When I waited to buy my first iPod, I had my pick of cases, headphones, and speaker accessories that weren’t available when it was first released. And because there were so many choices by then, competition had driven the prices down. I don’t have a Blu-Ray player yet, but I’m getting close to pulling the trigger because the prices of the DVD’s are finally coming down and there’s a large catalog of older titles selling for less. There are also more Blu-Ray’s on the used market. The longer you wait, the cheaper it becomes to use and accessorize your gadget.
Not only are things cheaper at full retail price if you wait, but you’ll also find more sales. When there are a lot more products in a given category (games, accessories, TV’s. DVD’s, etc.) the retailers and manufacturers have to do something to make you want to buy their product above the others. So they put things on sale. When there’s only one brand of Blu-Ray player, one brand of LCD TV, or just a few games available for a console there’s no need for sales because the limited supply can dictate a higher price. But when the market is glutted with items and newer ones are coming out every day, there are sales and us late adopters can have our pick.
Late adoption generally means fewer bugs in a product and better support. All the early adopters have already discovered that the new operating system has bugs, or that a certain model of Blu-Ray player freezes during playback. The glitches have been reported to the manufacturer and, ideally, corrected on future releases. Support technicians are better trained once a product has been out a while, too. By the time I get around to buying a product, they’ve seen it all already and any problems I have are quick fixes. There are also larger user groups available to late adopters. When you buy something on the first day, you’re on your own. But wait a while and a quick Google search can yield the answer to your problem because someone out there has already experienced it.
Waiting also means you don’t end up with the product that loses the battle. Remember the battle between Beta, Laserdisc, and VHS? I waited and bought a VHS after the dust settled and didn’t get stuck with players and media that were no longer usable. It’s the same with the recent battle between Blu-Ray and HD DVD. HD lost that one, but some of my “gotta have it on release day” friends sunk hundreds into HD players and discs and are now out that money. I waited and when I finally move to Blu-Ray, I’ll know I bought the winner.
Sure, I may never have the latest and greatest of anything. But I also don’t have the headaches, hassles, and financial losses that sometimes come with being on the cutting edge. Since I rarely need all the bells and whistles of a new model, the older models serve my needs just fine. And my wallet appreciates my restraint.