3 factors to consider when updating an existing innovation

Contrary to popular belief, not all new innovations are popularized and disseminated in the same way — that is, with a handful of early adopters kicking off a domino effect of exponential influence.

When predicting the popularity and adoption rates of a new product or innovation, according to the Harvard Business Review, there are significant differences between completely new technologies and updates or replacements of existing technologies. In fact, while brand-new innovations typically see a steady increase in adopters for quite some time, replacement innovations instead see rapid uptake at first, followed by a steep slowdown in adoption.

Here are three mechanisms responsible for that slowdown, per HBR, and which should be taken into account when predicting how an update to an innovation will be received.

1. Recency: If the original innovation was introduced only recently, consumers may not be quite ready to upgrade to the latest and greatest version.

2. Replacement propensity: Some innovations are simply more conducive to replacement. Televisions, for example, traditionally are not, since many households already have at least one perfectly fine TV and can forgo the slightly improved resolution and hefty price tag of a new one.

3. Popularity: Highly successful products are often more likely than others to continue their popularity streak; "success begets success," according to HBR.

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