With the debut of the Blackberry Storm, T-Mobile G1, and Sprint Instinct, American smartphones are finally catching up with the “phones of future” that Japan has enjoyed for years. The land of the rising sun has been a marvelous incubator for emerging gadgets, robots, and unexpected technology. It’s no wonder that Japan hit the top spot in a new study on which countries embrace new tech the fastest. The surprise was the rest of the list.
Four Nordic neighbors displaced the US to 6th place, and two emerging markets paced ahead of long-time industrialized nations.
The study compiled adoption rates for 16 kinds of products in 31 counties over the past 50 years. The winners were:
1. Japan (5.4 years for new tech to take off)
4. The Netherlands
6. The United States (6.2 years to take off)
These findings, which ran in the latest issue of Marketing Science, confirmed that a nation's wealth impacted how quickly it embraces new products. But culture can easily catapult a country higher up the list. For example: the study "revealed that newly developed or developing countries, like South Korea and Venezuela, saw faster product takeoff times than more established Mediterranean nations with longer histories of industrialization.”
When the researchers compared which products caught on more quickly, they found that countries greatly preferred the entertaining and frivolous over more functional and practical technologies. Countries on average adopted "fun" gadgets (cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras) five years faster than "work" appliances (microwaves, dishwashers, freezers).
The lesson here, according to the study, is to introduce "fun" tech at a different pace than "work" tech. "They argue that fun products like gadgets could be introduced simultaneously across nations (a 'sprinkler' strategy), while the introduction of appliances and other work-related technologies should be staggered ('waterfall') for maximum impact."
You can learn more about the study here.