The True Price of Being First
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The True Price of Being FirstThis is a guest post by Stefanie who is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.  If you would like your personal finance story or article to be feature on Vosa let me know here.

I’ve been trying to think of a time I’ve willingly waited hours upon hours in line to make a purchase.

Admittedly, I’ve endured epic lines for job opportunities, in my case, auditions (think a lesser version of what they show on American Idol on a daily basis.) But those are lines I tolerate for a chance to make money, I can’t imagine being corralled like that to spend it.

Yet it happens all the time; people camping out for the latest game console, or to get newly released brand name shoes, or perhaps, most notoriously, to get their hands on the latest innovations from Apple. And while I don’t think I’ll ever be able to grasp the psychology behind that burning desire to be first (the thrill of it? social status?), I do find it fascinating what price people are willing to pay for that distinction.

Premium Pricing

Waiting in line for the release of a new product or technology is like the opposite of Black Friday. Instead of hoping to score a deep discount, you’re clamoring to pay top price.

It’s amazing what a difference a little patience can make. Prices drop significantly over time, as products become more efficient and the competition starts releasing their own versions. When the iPad was originally released in 2010, it was priced at $499. I could walk into a store today, with no wait and no discount and buy a better version of the iPad for $100 less.

The Cost of Evolution

Those who insist on being at the cutting edge of technology are paying top dollar for what they essentially consider a disposable product. They know better than anyone how quickly technology evolves and how soon revolutionary products are replaced by newer and better versions, and yet they still insist on paying a premium to be involved at every stage of the game.

I didn’t buy an iPod until the iPod touch came out and I haven’t had to buy one since. I waited until the technology was at a place that its form and function could serve me in the long term; not just entertain me with its novelty for a few months. The first generations of products and technology are always imperfect. It takes time and often several new versions to get the kinks out.

You could argue that you’d be waiting forever if you only bought products after all the issues and limitations have been addressed. I would counter by saying it’s worth it to wait until a point of improved functionality and lower price meet to create value in the long term.

Time Cost

Even in September of 2013, with the launch of Apple’s SEVENTH iPhone (5c and 5s) there were lines at Apple stores around the world from China to New York.

Those who weren’t willing to give up their own time, hired people to wait in lines for them; $55 for 4 hours was the going price on TaskRabbit. Of course, those who had the patience to wait until the next day got the same product for the same price without the cost of the wait. Those who have enough patience to wait longer will undoubtedly see a lower price as time rolls on and newer versions are rolled out.

Are you an “early adopter”? What price are you paying for that distinction?  Please leave a comment below.

Image Credit: Ed Yourdon

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