Early Adoption & Upgrades: Be Careful
It’s hard to deny that pioneers deserve respect. They take greater risks and face greater challenges than most. It’s also important to note that it’s pioneers who end up with arrows in their backs. Just because they did it first, doesn’t mean they did it better. There is a big difference between being brave and leaping before you look. For some reason, marketing efforts are driven towards convincing the general public that they need the newest product or services as soon as possible – as if it’s going to disappear. But the truth is, it’s usually getting better. Which means if you wait, just a little bit, you can grab a product at it’s prime. It’s no longer undercooked and not yet spoiled. It’s perfect.
Why I Don’t Adopt Early
It’s 2013, products are built on an evolutionary scale. They’re designed to grow with the consumer. Intelligent companies produce beta products for the sake of market testing and only release a more finalized version after collecting feedback. Anyone who bought the iPhone 4 will attest to the fact that the iPhone 4s, which came out fairly soon afterwards, was a superior product. Skip a generation and save cash. If you can handle it, skip two.
Why I Readily Updated, But Not Anymore
I’m no fool. I would never buy the newest product. After all, a better one is coming out a few months later. But offer me an upgraded version of the software I’m already using, for free, and I’ll jump on it! It’s probably thoroughly tested and I can’t wait to see what it has to offer….right?
This was my general outlook and honestly I’m still working on shaking it. When a new iOS version was released for my MacBook (and by “mine”, I mean the one my company gave me to use), I was about to jump on it. But then my teammates began complaining about how the most recent upgrade was killing applications. The benefit wasn’t worth the cost. So I waited, but I wasn’t waiting for Apple to come out with any sort of patch, I was waiting for my teammates to figure out how to deal with the upgrade. I was still convinced that I wanted to upgrade, knowing that it wasn’t the best idea. Yes, I eventually did upgrade. I don’t see any difference, good or bad, but at least I’m up to date.
My next most recent experience is with Joomla. I’m using Joomla as the core of a secret project. I logged in and was told that a new version was available. No need to test it, my project is in alpha so it has no users, I have a recent backup, let’s click and upgrade. A moment later, I was up to date. A few moments after that, I invited some friends to give me feedback on the project. The only problem was, thanks to the newest Joomla upgrade, users were randomly getting an “Invalid Token” error while trying to log in. There is no fix yet, the problem, like the update, is too new.
The mindset I’m trying to form for software is the same one I successfully formed for devices. You don’t need the most recent version right away. Skip a generation if you can. Or two. At least wait for the complaints to come rolling into the forums and then await for them to be addressed. It will probably only take a few weeks.
When Updates Are Important
Don’t deal in extremes. Updates are not evil and you need to know when they’re important to jump on. If a software update is based on a security issue, jump on it, especially if it affects your users and their data. If you skip too many generations, you’ll fall behind. When I started working at DeskElf in 2009, Joomla was up to version 1.5. Soon afterwards, version 1.6 was released, followed by 1.7 and then 2.5, 3.0, 3.1 and now 3.2. During the 1.5 or 1.6 phase, a client approached us looking for help with his Joomla 1.0 site. We tried to fix it. We offered to migrate it to a new version. Ultimately the reply was, “If it’s not broken, why fix it?”. My explanation at the time was, “If you try to get help with your Windows 3.1 machine, you won’t find anyone willing or knowledgeable to touch it.” It might not be broken, but it’s also falling behind the times. I still stick with what I said (and unfortunately was unable to convince the client to upgrade at that time) and although I’m now shying away from instant upgrades, I do see importance in paying attention to them.