DEFINITION of Rate of Adoption

The rate of adoption is the pace at which a new technology is acquired and used by the public. This can be represented by the number of members of a society who start using a new technology or innovation during a specific period of time. The rate of adoption is a relative measure, meaning that the rate of one group is compared to the adoption of another, often of the entire society.

Attributes of an innovation that affect the rate of adoption include the advantage created by adopting the innovation, the ease at which the innovation can be adopted into daily life, the ability of other members of society to see those who have already adopted the innovation and the expense associated with trying the innovation.

BREAKING DOWN Rate of Adoption

The adoption rate is part of the diffusion of innovations theory, which seeks to explain how the use of new technologies, processes and innovations spreads through a society, and why they are adopted over old methods. It often decides when and how early adopters exist as well.

One major factor that influences the rate of adoption is the type of society that is being introduced to an innovation, as closed societies and societies without clear communication between adopters and non-adopters are less likely to take on a new technology.

Factors That Can Affect Rate of Adoption

While pricing of new technology can be a factor in the rate of adoption, the features offered with innovation can influence the overall demand for the product or service. For example, the introduction of smartphones, particularly the advent of the iPhone, was initially priced more as a luxury item. That made it an exclusive item when introduced to the public, with the cost factor as a potential hindrance to the rate of adoption. Despite the cost factor, the features and appeal of the iPhone drove demand among the public, which led to an accelerated rate of adoption for smartphones as a whole. As demand continued to grow, and pricing came down, smartphones spread rapidly among the public.

Not every innovation enjoys high rates of adoption. The complexities and limits of new technology can diminish demand and appeal with the target audience. For instance, virtual reality technology has been offered to the public through a variety of formats and platforms over numerous years. Despite improvements to the technology and more ways to access it, the rate of adoption did not escalate rapidly as more virtual reality products became available.

A slow rate of adoption occurred with 3D television, which had promised to bring the cinematic visuals of 3D movies to the residential market. The constraints of 3D technology and limitations in content for the home audience led to dwindling demand and minimal rates of adoption by the public. Eventually, major manufacturers discontinued production of 3D televisions as the rate of adoption never rose to sustainable levels.