Posted on Tue - November 4, 2008

Technology Disruptions

Important ideas I want to keep track of

Cross posted at Pagan Vigil and teknologi.

There's a great piece at Roughly Drafted, I want to keep track of it.

1: Conventional Disruption.

In hindsight, conventional disruptions are always obvious. Examples include the personal computer of the late 70s; the graphical desktop debuted by the original Macintosh; the rise of Windows as a common platform for PC makers; the emergence of the commercial web; and today, the emergence of the smartphone as a new platform of ubiquitous handheld computing.

We take all of these milestones along the road of computing to be inevitable discoveries because once time passes, the past seems like the only way things could have possibly occurred. At the time however, the dominant leaders of the day often failed to recognize the significance of all of these events, and in many cases, so did the mainstream tech media. <snip>

2: Dropped Ball Disruption.

While conventional disruption gets discussed a lot, there’s a second aspect of technology disruption. It comes, not from the emergence of a disruptive new product or concept, but from the Earth shattering destruction of the status quo caused by a face-planting failure of an existing leader, resulting in fertile ground for innovative competitors to rush in, redraw the playing field and rewrite the rules of the game.

This happened to Apple in the mid to late 80s. It handed away its technology lead to Microsoft (quite literally, when CEO John Sculley volunteered a free license to Mac technology to Gates in exchange for two years of exclusivity of Excel on the Macintosh), and then subsequently ignored the high volume consumer and small business markets while suing Microsoft and its other PC competitors for copyright infringement of the Mac’s unique concepts. <snip>

3: Fantasy Disruption.

There’s also a third type of disruption: the highly anticipated disruptor that never materializes. In the early 90s, the Newton PDA and series of Pen Computing initiatives were widely hailed as systems that would rejigger the computing world. The stylus would replace the bulky keyboard and computing would go mobile. Gates issues a series of predictions about how rapidly this would happen, but it never really did. Outside of a few limited applications, the concept of pen computing died completely.

Fascinating implications there and I'm pretty sure he's right on.

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