Old dogs and new tricks: the Innovator’s Dilemma

The Innovator’s Dilemma. According to Clayton Christensen, the prime mover of a sustaining technology can oftentimes fail to recognize and adapt to disruptive technologies that challenge its established position of dominance within a market. The inability to innovate and forecast changes within–and tangentially to–a sector can spell a missed opportunity.

susdir2Sustaining vs. Disruptive technologies, via web.mit.edu

Take the classic example of Microsoft’s Windows, which still–over the course of its 30-year existence–corners a significant majority of the desktop OS market share. Take a look.

img_0538Desktop OS market share, via www.netmarketshare.com

But here’s a question for Microsoft. Do you even mobile? The answer is no, not really.

img_0537Mobile/tablet OS market share, via www.netmarketshare.com

While Microsoft was busy squeezing every last user out of the desktop sector these past few decades, Google and Apple seized upon the bright idea that the future was in mobile. They were right. Mobile has emerged to dominate everything we do in terms of search, media consumption, monetary transactions and engagement.

Now, the OS is increasingly becoming unimportant as peripherals, third-party apps and browsers are able to be ported across multiple OS environments. As nascent technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality further establish themselves as disruptive media platforms, what OS, app or browser environments will emerge as victors to serve up content to the masses? Oculus, HTC/Valve and Google are all jockeying for position. Interestingly enough, Apple has remained quiet on this front. And Microsoft, perhaps having learned its lesson from its shortsighted approach to mobile, is poised to disrupt them all with its Holographic OS. Who said an old dog can’t learn new tricks?



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