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Abstract

As mobile devices have become the personal information-processing interface of choice, many individuals seem to swiftly follow fashion. Yet, the literature is silent on how early adopters of mobile devices overcome uncertainties related to shifts in technology. Based on purposive sampling, this paper presents detailed insights into why and how five closely related individuals made the decision to adopt the iPhone before it was available through traditional supply chains. Focusing on the role played by social networks, we analyze how adoption threshold, opinion leaders, social contagion, and social learning shaped adoption behaviors and outcomes. The analyses confirm that network structures impacted the early decision to accept the iPhone; they show that when facing uncertainty, adoption decisions emerged as a combined result of individual adoption reflections and major influences from the social network as well as behaviors observed within the network; and, they reveal interesting behaviors that differed from expectations. In conclusion, we discuss implications for both theory and practice.

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