Giorgio Delgado

Exploiting Disruptive Innovation

March 28, 2014

As I stare hopelessly at the diminished novelty of my iPhone 4s, I ask myself whether I should get a new phone just to, as wireless wave would put it, "fall in love with my phone again". It'd be nice to have an Android's large screen with open source applications and less restricted OS. Alternatively, Apple's iPhone 5s continues the long-lived tradition of creating an aesthetically pleasing piece of technological hardware, paired with an OS that I'm already very accustomed to (thus bringing with it zero switching costs). But logic prevails and reminds me that all of the phones currently out in the market are essentially the same.

A well-known academic by the name of Clayton Christensen coined the phrase "Disruptive Innovation" to describe the process whereby seemingly weak and simple products and services work their way up from the bottom of the market to eventually knock substantial market share from the leading companies.

There are substantial examples of this phenomenon all around us. Toyota, for instance, started on the low end of the car manufacturing market. They focused on cheap parts with low overhead costs that could be afforded by many more people.

As Clayton Christensen puts it in his blog:

An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill.

What can then happen, as so often does in the tech industry, is that the disruptive innovator becomes the new king of the hill. Blackberry, Microsoft, and Apple can all attest to this.

With this in mind, I may just hold out until something revolutionary becomes mainstream.