The Fastest Adopted Gadget Isn't What You Think

Illustration for article titled The Fastest Adopted Gadget Isn't What You Think

If you think about the one gadget you simply can't live without, most of us would say our smartphones, right? Like what would you do if people couldn't always absolutely definitely get in touch with you. Well a study dug up by The Atlantic looks at rates of adoption shows that cellphones were actually relatively slow to take over the world. The fastest gadget? The boom box.

Alexis Madrigal created the graph above from data in a 2011 study published in the drably named Journal of Management and Marketing Research.


Within seven years of its initial release in the 1970's, the boom box had been adopted by 63% of Americans. Cellphones, on the other hand, only penetrated 10-percent of the market. As Madrigal points out, the top five fastest adopted gadgets are entertainment gadgets and not communication gadgets. There are a lot of potential reasons for this difference which include everything from how fast the technology's price drops to how quickly the technology gets good enough to be widely useful. Anyone who owned a cellphone in the early 90s knows they were expensive and not that good. While the boom box came to market as a fully realized vision, it took a long time for the cellphone to actually be useful.

It would also be interesting to see the smartphone broken out as its own category, since the phones we're carrying around today really aren't cellphones at all. The data on market penetration cited in the study actually predates the smartphone's seventh anniversary. Would it beat out the boom box? [JMMR via The Atlantic]

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Well I'm sure the cost to own a boom box within the first 7 years was a lot less than the cost to own satellite tv, cell phone, etc...

That plays a large role.