Technology Adoption Life Cycle

Instructor: Olga Bugajenko

Olga is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and has a master's degree in project management.

Even the most successful technological innovations like the iPhone and Facebook did not become popular overnight. Explore the five stages of the technology adaptation life cycle to understand how society reacts to innovations.

Technology Adoption Life Cycle

Do you remember which of your friends was the first to get an iPhone? When Apple first started producing iPhones back in 2007, sales were not as impressive as many expected, it garnered 2.7% of all mobile device sales worldwide. Similarly, Facebook started off as a network used only by Harvard students in 2004, before growing into an international social network with over one billion users six years later. Just like iPhone and Facebook, the majority of new technologies do not get popular overnight and instead grow their customer base progressively.

The Technology Adoption Life Cycle divides potential new technology adopters into five adopter categories or segments, according to the degree to which a person is ready to adopt innovative products or services as compared to the rest of society. This model was first introduced by Everett Rogers in 1962 as part of his diffusion research.

Five Segments Of Technology Adoption

  1. Innovators
  2. Early Adopters
  3. Early Majority
  4. Late Majority
  5. Laggards


These are the first people to adopt a new product or service. Traditionally, for technology innovations like new gadgets or software, this segment consists of younger people, who are proficient IT users, have a higher social class and higher income that they are willing to spend on new technology. They also have a higher risk tolerance and are prepared for the innovation to fail their expectations. The innovators segment is usually only 2.5% of society. Imagine a new social network FriendsOnline appears. Its first users are likely to be teenagers and university students.

Early adopters

The second segment's socioeconomic characteristics are generally similar to the innovators'. These, too, often are younger people with higher income and higher education. They are somewhat pickier in their choices than innovators, but have a positive attitude towards change and high social participation. As a result, they will usually become the opinion leaders for the rest of the market. The early adopters segment is usually 13.5% of the society. The innovators will share the information about FriendsOnline with their classmates, and soon a lot more school and university students will be registering. Some will also write blog posts and articles for tech magazines about it.

Early majority

This is the next segment of the market to adopt the innovation awhile after the innovators and the early adopters. These are usually above average social class and income individuals, who are exposed to the opinions of early adopters and are likely to follow their lead. The early majority segment is usually 34% (a third) of society. Older people who read tech magazines, as well as family members of innovators and early adopters will eventually give FriendsOnline a try as well.

Late majority

This group will adopt the innovation later than an average member of society. Late majority users are typically skeptical about the innovation, come from below average social class and have low disposable income. Usually, these are not directly exposed to the early adopters. The late majority segment is usually 34% (a third) of society. These are people who don't have youngsters in their families and are not very keen about Internet trends. They are likely to learn about FriendsOnline from the early majority, perhaps while having a coffee break with colleagues that recently joined the network following advice from their children.


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