Code & Iron

To be Huge, you must Eventually Sell to the Laggards

The technology adoption lifecycle is demarcated into Innovators, Early Adopters, Early/Late Majorities, and the Laggards. When I spend time with my family I ask them:

What software are you using?
What devices have you bought?
Which can’t you live without?

It is my clearest barometer of how far a trend or technology has spread.


My Sister is an Early Adopter. She was quick to recognize social media as a platform for change. She is adamantly eco and social fairness conscious. She is a native on Facebook and Twitter, and is tethered to her laptop. She bought a quad-band phone on purpose.

Sell her:
– The ability to share her identity and message with her peers and the world at large
– Technology that respects our planet and the people that live here
– Devices with a 5 year+ lifespan


My Mom fits well into the Early Majority. She doesn’t know exactly what she wants, but is sure it’s new. She fears being left behind by technological advance. She has annoyances, and if solutions are made convenient and simple she will pay dearly for them. She owns an iPhone, an iPad, and is dead-set on switching to a MacBook when she retires.

Sell her:
– A service to scan, sort, backup, and beautify her existing collection of physical photos
– Anything that keeps our geographically dispersed family connected
– An all-in-one monthly subscription to unlimited high quality Music, Movies, Books, Audiobooks, and TV. (I’m looking at you Apple and Google)


My Grandma is well into the Late Majority. A Skype user, an iPad owner (for the Casino and Solitaire games), and a snowbird. She does not actively seek out new technology, it intrudes into her life. If it is a friendly, simple force she will embrace it, otherwise she’s just as happy to maintain the status quo. She was born in 1928, the same year as the Cathode Ray Television.

Sell her:
– Assistive devices and services to maintain her daily dignity and independence
– Entertainment that stimulates and engages her mind
– A simple way to stay updated on her Family and their daily lives


My Dad is a proud technological Laggard. In his career as a Systems Engineer he touched applications that affect hundreds of users, often in safety and liability-critical environments. In his personal life? He owns a Nokia pay as you go brick with $100/year on it. He hasn’t needed a new TV in 15 years and our old family computer has been ticking along for 10. If I sound frustrated it’s because I am. He is fiercely, vehemently against newness.

My dad is the ultimate litmus test for social acceptance of a technology. If you can make a product or service my Dad needs, and I mean really needs, you will be successful. Wildly, outrageously successful.

He recently asked me to install DropBox because he read about it in the Globe and Mail.

  Posted by Matt Holtom in Blog, General, Technology on January 27, 2014

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