What Is Bleeding Edge Technology?

Bleeding edge technology is a type of technology released to the public even though it has not been thoroughly tested and may be unreliable. Bleeding edge technology usually comes with a degree of risk and expense for the end-user—in most cases, the consumer

Key Takeaways

  • Bleeding edge technology has a certain amount of risk, with early adopters facing a significant downside if the technology misses the mark.
  • Consumers may not be that familiar with the product, it may not be thoroughly tested and it may have glitches that can't be quickly or easily fixed.
  • Consumers that become early adopters could lose money, time, or sensitive information if the technology fails to deliver on its promises.

Understanding Bleeding Edge Technology

Bleeding edge technology is usually released to the public before any major testing is done. In fact, the technology is presented to consumers as beta testing is underway. This usually helps companies smooth out any kinks, problems, and any other issues that go unseen when the technology is originally made. 

Unfortunately, this means that the end-user, or the consumer, is usually the one who ends up with the greater risk. It also means there could be added expenses for the consumer as well, whether that's time or money. 

Bleeding Vs. Leading, Cutting Edge

The term "bleeding edge" is often seen as being related to the similar terms "leading edge" and "cutting edge." Despite the allusion to these terms, it's important to remember that bleeding edge technology can often be unreliable. 

Costs and Benefits of Bleeding Edge Technology

If a technology is not a hundred percent ready for the public to use, why would a company want to release it? Simply, there are certain benefits for a firm to release bleeding edge technology. It is particularly common for certain types of software, especially open-source software, to be released in this form. By doing so, it allows the company to give users access to it in order to test out and contribute to the technology. The firm can also be made aware of and smooth out any flaws, and gather input into what consumers find may help boost the user experience. 

But there are also disadvantages to using bleeding edge technology. There is a chance of consumer backlash, especially when the technology is far too flawed. And that means that the company could end up with the heavy expense of having a product on the market that people just do not want to buy. 

Bleeding Edge Technology Examples

For example, open-source software has code that is easily accessible and can be modified by anyone. Open-source practices can help consumers by providing them with free offerings, but some of the offerings come with great risk. Additionally, when cryptocurrency was first introduced, there was little known about the technology, whether the money was "real," and what the risks were in becoming a buyer. Some early adopters benefitted and became wealthy, while others lost money and found themselves unable to get help from any main regulatory board or help center.

Certain technological advancements that once seemed bleeding edge have now become part of the mainstream, such as email or smartphones. Nowadays, such technology may have glitches, but hardly poses any big risk to consumers. Apple's 2020 iPhone 12 came with flaws that included a green hue to the display screen that Apple tried unsuccessfully to fix by issuing a new software update. However, there is very little risk to using a smartphone and Apple is no longer bleeding edge technology. Today's bleeding edge technology could become tomorrow's standard technology.