Technology laggards play pivotal role in keeping the beat of innovation

Every time he has fired up his Netscape Web browser since mid-February, John Uribe has been greeted with a message urging him to switch to one of Netscape’s two successors, Firefox or Flock.The missives came from AOL, Netscape’s parent company, and warned him that Netscape, which introduced millions of people to the Internet, was about to become a digital orphan. On March 1, he was told, AOL would stop providing support for Netscape, leaving a band of users loyal to the Web browser to fend for themselves if they ran into technical problems.Uribe, a 56-year-old real estate agent in Waldorf, Maryland, ignored every message.”It’s kind of irrational,” Uribe said as that deadline approached. “It worked for me, so I stuck with it. Until there is really some reason to totally abandon it, I won’t.”The technology industry thrives on its ability to sell new products to consumers at an ever-increasing pace, and it has turned many upgrades into painless, one-click operations. But million of users of nearly every type of Internet service and technology, from Netscape and AOL dial-up to old e-mail systems, still prefer to ignore the pitches and sit still – or at least move ahead at their own pace.

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