In many of my posts on new products I have cautioned against early adoption, mainly because most new products need some time to work out the kinks. In the case of the iPhone, early adopters can be hurt economically as well. Barely two months after its release, Apple dropped the price of the 8Gb iPhone $200 to $399. In an open letter to early purchasers on the Apple web site, which attempts to explain this, Steve Jobs starts out by saying that the “technology road is bumpy.” I guess that’s his way of saying, “Life’s tough in the big city.” He goes on to say,

“there is always someone who bought a product before a particular cutoff date and misses the new price or the new operating system or the new whatever. This is life in the technology lane. If you always wait for the next price cut or to buy the new improved model, you’ll never buy any technology product because there is always something better and less expensive on the horizon.”

Huh? So is he admitting that early adopters often get screwed, while at the same time urging people to buy what is new when it comes out (and risk being screwed) rather than take a “wait and see” attitude, because those who do that will never buy anything? Or perhaps hes is hoping that you won’t notice that “life in the technology lane” is also about an industry that does lower prices on technology as it gets older in the market. Robert Scoble notes in his blog that this is often the case, while stating that the higher price is what you pay to get the latest toy first. But I think what hurts most about what Apple did is how soon they did it. Terrence Russell points out in his Wired blog just how he believes Apple blundered in this, and he makes some interesting points (four of them to be exact).

To add insult to injury (in my opinion) Jobs offered, to those “who [are] not receiving a rebate or any other consideration,” a $100 credit at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Not a $100 rebate, but a chance to give it back to Apple by buying something else from them! Can you say”Consolation Prize”?

Bob Scoble is right: paying more for something is the price you pay for getting the latest technology first. However, one should always do that with the full understanding that what happened with the iPhone can happen with any product, and it should weigh in your buying decision for any tech product. In other words, is there extra value in having it right away rather than waiting? Only you can make that decision, but in light of what happened to early iPhone purchasers, it is something that should not be overlooked.

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