The decline in personal computer (PC) sales makes sense once we examine the preferences of different adopter categories. Research on PC adoption has tended to assume the same set of innovation characteristics that influence adoption across all adopter categories, yet in reality, systematic differences exist across adopter categories. Early adopters are the opinion leaders, receiving social esteem by being the first of their group to adopt, and maintaining their position by judiciously evaluating innovations for others. Our research findings illustrate the folly of assuming current non-adopters care about the same things as innovators and early adopters, or assuming that all they care about is PC cost. While cost may be a factor for those still holding out, it is neither the only nor the most important factor. Instead, later adopters want long-lasting products that have yet to appear on the horizon. Until the PC industry convinces this group of potential consumers that their PC will operate like a refrigerator, PC sales are likely to continue in their current stalled state.
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