When we think of technology’s early adopters, we tend to think of the young hipsters in tech hubs like New York or San Francisco, testing out all the cool new apps, gadgets and gizmos before the rest of the nation has a chance to check them out. But what if tech’s new early adopters are not the 25-to-35 crowd with their growlers and beards and skinny jeans and iPhones, but the earliest possible adopters out there – the toddlers and young kids who are literally growing up using digital technologies before they learn how to spell, write or even talk? The latest example comes from the CES consumer electronics show in Vegas, where both Disney and Sesame Street showcased augmented reality innovations for kids.
This is more than just whimsical speculation – if our early adopters are changing, it could impact how technological innovations are being diffused through society. Back in 1962, a fascinating little book –Diffusion of Innovations by Everett Rogers – sought to explain how innovations are transmitted throughout society. And, to a significant extent, this is the basic model that many in the tech world now follow – whether they know it or not. In short, the adoption of any innovation follows a nice, smooth little curve – at one end of the curve, you have the innovators and early adopters. At the other end of the curve, you have the laggards. And, in the middle, you have the majority – the 68% of us who are either “early majority” or “late majority” innovators.