Part Two: Is Disruptive Innovation Dying?

by Lolita Foster, Senior Content Developer, West Cary Group

In part one of this blog series, we explored the effect that the consumerization of IT has had on disruptive innovation. Here, we probe more deeply into the power of the modern consumer. 

Don’t Tell Us We’ll Tell You: Applicability

Continuing along Blanchard’s line of reasoning, there’s an interesting lesson to be learned about the importance of value creation and applicability when it comes to innovation. And for proof, we have only to turn to the rise of a product line that seems all but obvious – streaming services.

Apple TV was built in 2007. It was called a hobby by Steve Jobs and deemed a failure by tech analysts. Critics slammed it as a “closed ecosystem” and boldly predicted its impending demise. Indeed, the device languished in near obscurity for years. Consumers couldn’t think of a place for it, and it was all but excluded in Apple’s grand product announcements.

The problem, as Slate blogger Lily Hay Newman so aptly stated, was that “Apple had envisioned a world before consumers had any collective idea physical media was on its way down and cable television would change forever.”

Netflix almost suffered the same fate of the overhasty. Remember Qwikster? By 2011, the company also knew physical media was dying, so they separated their DVD-by-mail and streaming services – and cost the company 800,000 members that year in the process. The combined lesson? Both Apple and Netflix took an innovative leap when they should have made a step.

In fact, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitted as much, saying they moved too fast with it and were overconfident. The company recovered the following year by adding something consumers did immediately see value in and saw a place for in their daily lives – original content they could view on their own schedule – and by the end of 2014, Netflix anticipated 57 million global subscribers.

Then there’s Roku. As more people turned away from traditional TV and balked at seemingly exorbitant cable prices, the more affordable set-top box made a name for itself. Last November, the research firm Parks Group reported that in 2014 Roku claimed 29 percent of streaming media device sales. Apple TV came in third, with 17 percent.

Roku, the more dominant media device in terms of sales, launched just one year after Apple TV. The lesson? Today’s tech innovation is perhaps more dependent upon timing than ever before because consumers are in the driver’s seat: They want it when they want it, and not a moment before. 

Next Week, Part Three: The Magic of Wonder 

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