This paper extends the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) to incorporate the impact of personal and virtual word-of-mouth (pWOM and vWOM). The authors hypothesize that both types of word-of-mouth will be positively related with consumer perceptions of innovation usefulness and perceived ease of use. In addition, the authors examine two competing hypotheses regarding the relative impact of pWOM and vWOM on perceptions of innovation attributes. One hypothesis argues that potential adopters place more weight on pWOM sources because they perceive relatively more similarity between themselves and pWOM sources. The alternative hypothesis argues that potential adopters place more weight on vWOM sources because those sources (relative to pWOM sources) expose potential adopters to a wider variety of information and a larger number of experts. Finally, the authors argue that symbolic product usage will enhance the relationship between word-of-mouth and consumer perceptions of innovation attributes. These hypotheses are tested using data collected in Japan from over 600 potential adopters of Blu-ray DVD recorders and smart phones. Findings indicate that, in both product categories, pWOM and vWOM are positively and significantly related with perceived ease of use. Moreover, in both samples pWOM is positively and significantly related with perceived usefulness, while vWOM is significantly related with perceived usefulness only in the smart phone sample. With regard to the relative impact of pWOM and vWOM on perceptions of innovation attributes, results indicate that vWOM has a larger impact on potential adopter perceptions of ease of use. Finally, the estimated model provides support for the hypothesis that symbolic consumption increases the impact of word-of-mouth on perceptions of innovation attributes. In particular, findings indicate that the impact of pWOM on perceptions of innovation usefulness is higher among potential adopters of smart phones than among potential adopters of Blu-ray DVD recorders. Similarly, the impact of vWOM on perceptions of ease of use is higher among potential smart phone adopters than among potential adopters of Blu-ray DVD recorders.
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