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techthingsEarly adopters of new technology typically make up a small segment of the population. But a new study shows that it’s actually a majority of Americans who have been first among their peers to test out new gadgets and services.

The Webby Awards, an annual Oscars-style bash for Internet innovation, creativity and other wacky stuff, conducted a study with the help of Harris Interactive that polled 800 U.S. adults aged 18-to-44 about their consumer behavior toward new technology.

The results are interesting. About 56 percent said they have been the first among their friends, colleagues or family members to try a new product or service.

As far as why the number of early adopters has increased, Webby pinned that on the Internet.

“It has become overwhelmingly clear, both anecdotally and now through this research, that the Internet has democratized the culture of early adoption,” Webby Awards Executive Director David-Michel Davies said in a statement. “Being first is no longer reserved for die hard fan boys or those with special access and connections. Average Americans are camping out for the new iPhone, purchasing designer labels in flash sales, and participating in Kickstarter campaigns that raise millions overnight, then sharing their experiences as ‘Firsters” to define their online identity.”

The study also found that the ability to share initial experiences with friends on social media is a big reason for the spike in early adopters. In fact, 45 percent said they share photos or thoughts on social media about a new product or service they just tried. Those browsing their feeds are also influenced by these “first time experience” posts, as 62 percent said they are at least somewhat likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media post.

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