Bleeding edge technology

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Bleeding edge technology is a category of technologies so new that they could have a high risk of being unreliable and lead adopters to incur greater expense in order to make use of them.[1][2] The term bleeding edge was formed as an allusion to the similar terms "leading edge" and "cutting edge". It tends to imply even greater advancement, albeit at an increased risk because of the unreliability of the software or hardware.[3] The first documented example of this term being used dates to early 1983, when an unnamed banking executive was quoted to have used it in reference to Storage Technology Corporation.[4]

A proportion of bleeding edge technology makes it into the mainstream. For example, electronic mail (email) was once considered to be bleeding edge.[5]


A technology may be considered bleeding edge where it contains a degree of risk, or, more generally, there is a significant downside to early adoption, such as:

  • Lack of consensus – competing ways of doing new things exist and there is little to no indication in which direction the market will go.[citation needed] By its very nature, consumers and firms will be unfamiliar with the product and its relationship to existing technologies,[2] leading to rapid changes in what is considered best practice as more becomes known about the technology's qualities.[3]
  • Lack of testing – the technology may be unreliable,[2] or simply untested.[3]
  • Industry resistance to change – trade journals and industry leaders have spoken against a new technology or product but some organizations are trying to implement it anyway because they are convinced it is technically superior.[citation needed]

Costs and benefits[edit]

The rewards for successful early adoption of new technologies can be great in terms of establishing a comparative advantage in otherwise competitive markets;[2] unfortunately, the penalties for "betting on the wrong horse" (e.g. in a format war) or choosing the wrong product are equally large. Whenever an organization decides to take a chance on bleeding edge technology there is a chance that they will be stuck with a white elephant or worse.

Bleeding edge computer software, especially open-source software, is especially common. Indeed, it is usual practice for open-source developers to release new, bleeding edge versions of their software fairly frequently, sometimes in a rather unpolished state to allow others to review, test, and, in many cases, contribute to it (beta testing). Therefore, users who want features that have not been implemented in older, more stable releases of the software are able to choose the bleeding-edge version. In such cases, the user is willing to sacrifice stability, reliability, or ease of use for the sake of increased functionality.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "bleeding edge. (n.d.)". Unabridged. Random House. Retrieved 12 September 2008. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Effy Oz (2008). Management Information Systems. Cengage Learning. p. 65. ISBN 978-1-4239-0178-5.
  3. ^ a b c Ingo Schommer; Steven Broschart (2010). SilverStripe: The Complete Guide to CMS Development. John Wiley & Sons. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-470-68270-8.
  4. ^ Hayes, Thomas C. (21 March 1983). "Hope at Storage Technology". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 September 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Infosystems. Hitchcock Pub. Co. 1977. p. 64.
  6. ^ Rikishi, Niramiai (December 2000). "Selling in the Bazaar: How Open Source Manages Code". AAUGN. AUUG, Inc.: 41. Retrieved 9 November 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of bleeding edge at Wiktionary'
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup - a nonfiction book by journalist John Carreyrou, 5/21/2018, about the rise and fall of the firm Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech fraud startup headed by Elizabeth Holmes. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup