I am mourning the passage of MOG, a digital music discovery service that is going dark in April.

It is great way to listen to and discover music, but it's pointless going into its virtues. Berkeley-based MOG will soon join the dust heap of tech history, along with the PalmPilot, Google Reader, the digital photo service Everpix and many other services and products that once had their day -- and their devotees.

MOG's demise got me to thinking about the pros and cons of being an early adopter.

Early adopters enjoy the benefits of being the first kids on the block with the latest iPhone or the newest easy-to-use public transit app. There's the cool factor. They dazzle friends with their quick efficiency and technical derring-do.

But there are pitfalls to being on the front lines of consumer tech. It's not just the time invested test-driving new apps. We form habits as if these services will be around forever. We bore our friends and family by singing their praises.

But as the Buddhists say, everything changes. Companies run out of money. Or, like MOG, another firm, in this case Beats Audio, buys it and shuts down the service. We howl into the void: How could they?

Being disruptive doesn't always ensure success, and tech's life cycle can be as short as a butterfly's, particularly in the app economy. In fact, that sector depends on finding a lot of people willing to try apps without a care that they could disappear overnight.


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Morgan Reed, executive director of the Association for Competitive Technology, which represents 5,000 software app companies, experienced his own digital loss when two years ago a company bought and shut down Loopt, a popular social service.

That killed his slideshow and data from a trip to Greece with his wife. The rich photo-sharing environment Reed painstakingly created on Loopt -- his photo captions, his notes -- was gone.

"Disruptive technologies sometimes go away," he told me. "I'll try the next thing."

And he was lucky; Loopt gave users access to their photos. For many app developers, a contingency plan for what to do with consumer data isn't always tops on the list. "No one wants to predict their own death," Reed said.

And it's not just startups. Paul Duguid, an adjunct professor in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, is still getting over Apple's decision in the early 2000s to stop supporting HyperCard, software that made programming relatively easy. He keeps an older computer solely so he can access files he created with the program.

Today, he points out, the "consumer is as much a contributor as a firm's producer, and innovation comes from how much consumers put into these things."

"There's a reward for our effort when these things work," he said, but if a company goes belly up, "it puts us more curiously at the mercy of these people."

Sure, I know MOG's end is part of tech's life and death cycle. Other digital music services are out there, I know. Whatever is next for me -- Spotify, Rdio and Beats Music, the new streaming service from Beats Audio -- I hope it lasts long enough to offset the set-up hassle. But the bar to replace MOG is high.

The service gave me, someone who grew up listening to rock on commercial radio, an easy way to broaden my musical horizons and delve deeply into artists and genres I discovered.

More poignantly, MOG gave my kids the sense of being explorers stepping into the vast limitless ocean of all the world's music.

MOG made me realize that the ability for kids to easily search, discover and listen to music on demand has to be right up there as one of the greatest gifts to this generation.

As I said, the bar is high.

Contact Michelle Quinn at 510-394-4196 and mquinn@mercurynews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/michellequinn.