Each innovation in technology has a life-cycle and whether you adopt in the beginning, middle, or end; you are a part of this cycle. If you are the type of person that had an HDTV in 2001 or a Nokia N95 in 2007, then you understand the concept of being an early adopter. This term refers to the second position in the technology life-cycle behind "innovators" and is made up of people who are typically very tech-savvy and willing to spend money to be among the first with a new gadget. There are a few benefits and even drawbacks of being an early adopter, but without these folks, there would not be the level of innovation that we enjoy today.
Early adopters, more often than not, are the first consumer "votes" that a company will have on a new piece of technology. What is meant by votes in this context is that in a supply and demand market, a company needs to have demand for the product or technology. While most times the early adopters will be faced with much higher prices and sub-par products than compared to the later stages of the adoption life-cycle, there are many reasons to become an early adopter.
Companies will usually have a higher level of contact with their early adopters because they tend to be more knowledgeable and provide candid answers. This can lead to a satisfying feeling of having your voice heard about something you are passionate about. Most times this feedback can lead to much more gratifying iterations of the technology in the future. For example, people who bought an iPhone in 2007 are a big part of the evolution the iPhone has seen since its inception.
There is something to be said about bragging rights and being an early adopter can definitely get you something to brag about (if you have nerdy friends). Having the newest and coolest gadget on the market is always a great conversation piece in a geeky crowd. Even as the technology get more popular and moves through the life-cycle, you can always find a way to weave a story into conversation about how you had the toy before everyone else did.
Early adopters tend to be thought-leaders in their circles when it comes to technology. This may not be a benefit, as much as a fact of the matter statement. Most times there will be a person in a circle that tends to always have the new gadget on the market and talk about the benefits and disadvantages to the tech. There is a satisfying feeling of having the engaged attention of people by talking to them about something they are not familiar with.
There are many benefits to adopting technology early. The main one is that if you would like to see something continue, evolve, and improve then someone has to buy it first. While most times early adopters will spend much more money on gadgets, the major would not have these great products had it not been for the people passionate enough to fork over the money first.