Lately I’ve been getting tired of iPad owners proclaiming themselves “early adopters”. Why has it suddenly become such a badge of pride? Isn’t it annoying enough watching them parade the device around?

There’s good reason why the majority of people aren’t early adopters. The first generation of any product/technology is usually the worst. It’s buggy, expensive, unproven, and the ecosystem isn’t there yet to make it a value proposition. Later versions are packed with more features, important bug fixes and better support. And historically, it’s not the innovator company that profits when the product/technology finally goes mainstream… it’s someone else who came up with a better 2nd or 3rd generation, and had the staying power to cross the chasm.

Being an early adopter may be advantageous in certain situations. Tennis pros using better racket technology, swimmers wearing advanced suits (now banned), development teams using Agile methodologies, are examples of that. But for consumer products like the iPad, there’s no tangible reason for the buyer to be proud of early adoption. Can you imagine someone who proudly said they’re early adopters of Motorola’s Iridium phones? Or HD-DVDs?

iPadders are just trying to feel good about their purchase by rationalizing an impulsive decision. One day, we’ll look back on the iPad launch, and say this was the day Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field finally went mainstream.