How Quickly Do We Adopt New Technology?


More quickly all the time, it seems. MIT Technology Review looked at the time it took for nine different technologies to fully saturate the U.S. market. They started back in 1876 and looked through 2010, breaking the process into three phases:

Some innovations, like the original telephone and electricity, took time to saturate markets. Alexander Graham Bell’s patented telephone took 25 years to gain traction, another 39 years to reach maturity, and almost a full century before the market for landlines was saturated. Electricity also was slow to reach saturation. Both technologies were hampered by infrastructure issues, like running enough cable and wire to provide services to businesses and homes. 

Newer technologies have been and are being adopted far more rapidly. Television took more than a decade to gain traction, but progressed through maturity to saturation in less than a decade. The mobile phone caught on a lot faster than landlines, becoming mainstream in less than half the time. That’s nothing compared to smart phones which took about 10 years to reach maturity. Tablets appear to be catching on even faster. In fact, in a separate 2012 article, MIT Technology Review pointed out, “Mobile devices outsold PCs last year for the first time, and top smart-phone apps need little more than a year to win the kind of audience it used to take technologies decades to reach.” 

The mobile revolution is progressing rapidly, and some businesses still need to prepare. According to Forrester Research, as reported via, about 15 percent of employees are accessing sensitive data that may include client information, non-public financial data, intellectual property, or corporate strategies from their own devices rather than those provided by their employers. As a result, many firms need a more scrupulous identity management strategy, not to mention a chief mobility officer.