The Early Adopter’s Dilemma

I’ve been cleaning house and I just found this in one of my closets:

Sometime around year 2000, this service came into being by Motient, who used one of the first RIM Blackberrys to allow users to connect to Yahoo! Messenger IM via this device. It also allowed me to read/write Yahoo! Mail.
I bought one as soon as it came out. It was fantastic. We Yahoos depended on IM so much in our work day and I was now connected wherever I was. It was at a time when SMS wasn’t so prevalent in the US and there was no connection between a computer based IM product and a device. So now I could be pinged on Yahoo! IM anytime and anywhere! This percursor to SMS was a fantastic breakthrough in showing how being connected in real time could be an incredibly useful thing.
But alas, about a year or so later, Motient closed down and the money I paid for the device and steep monthly charges were all down the tube. It would be many years before SMS really gained traction in the US enough to where enough people would be contact-able via SMS, and this would have supplanted the Motient product and service.
It’s the dilemma of the early adopter. You see a real cool product and/or service from a brand new company, and you see enough value in it to actually buy one and use it. It’s so useful, so typically expensive, and so freakin’ cool; all of these factors drive the early adopter to get one simply to have one before everyone else does. But the risk of having the company, product, or service close down is super-high.
I bought an iPhone on the first day it came out. But it could have been a dud. Luckily it was not. I also bought an Apple TV and sweated through about 8+ months of whether Apple would close down that product line or not, despite its incredibly utility. Thankfully, that product has been rejuvenated as well.
Last winter, I bought myself an Amazon Kindle. It’s definitely on that high risk list of products that could just disappear by the end of the year if its business model doesn’t prove out. I’ve grown to love it thoroughly but keep wondering if Amazon will just close it down at some point.
Sony is probably the worst early adopter product creator. They keep products going for years and years before they really should be shut down. Their strategy is to brute force a new technology into the marketplace and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At least you might enjoy it for a few years though, as it dies a slow, unpopular death.
It’s the dilemma of an early adopter. You can’t resist taking the leap of getting one but you also take the risk of wasting tons of money if it shuts down. All that to be the first one on the block and maintain that early adopter mystique…