The early adopter tax

Summary:We're all aware that it exists but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow when it happens. Odds are that everyone has purchased a shiny little gadget only to find it replaced with a new model a scant few months later.

We're all aware that it exists but that doesn't make it any easier to swallow when it happens. Odds are that everyone has purchased a shiny little gadget only to find it replaced with a new model a scant few months later.

Sometimes it simply can't be avoided, it's the price of buying technology on the bleeding edge. By definition it's going to be upgraded sometime soon. Facts of life aside, there's still a certain sting when your favorite new tech gadget becomes obsolete before its time.

Take when I bought a new HDTV for example. The best advice I received was from a friend who told me not to look at the electronics flyers or TV aisle of a store for at least six months. The argument was that it was better to avoid the ads that would soon undoubtedly feature some new TV model or substantial price drop on mine. It worked, not looking avoided a lot of unnecessary buyer's remorse.

I wish the same were true with some of the Apple products of late. If you believe the rumbling, Apple's coming out with a pink iPod nano. And how couldn't they after the runaway success of the pink minis with the girls? But what about the early adopters that already purchased a nano. Sure, they can always sell it on eBay and pick up the new model, but there's a price to pay.

Then a scant two months after launching the USB Mighty Mouse, Apple may release the wireless Bluetooth version. No one will complain about innovation, but is there an issue here with Apple's timing? Is this just the natural process of time marching on and upgrades being released? Or is Apple beta testing this stuff on us and dinging us again for the better model in a few months?

The problem with being an early adopter is that the people who end up buying a new Apple product on day one are also the same people that will buy it's revision on day one - even only a few months later. To Apple, many of its customers are good for several sales of the same item and that's a pretty good racket.

Is this something that all manufacturers do, or is Apple especially masterful at squeezing every last dollar out of their loyal flock?

Topics: Apple

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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