defining – and explaining – disruptive potential

Horace Dedlu presents a thoughtful examination of a what is rapidly becoming buzzword, and its more common terms of reference (from Apple and RIM), and reminds us of the value of plain reason.

…I argue that the real disruption of mobile computing i.e. iPhone is made possible not by the smartphone technologies but by mobile broadband. Once broadband became mobile with 3G the smartphone could shift its focus jobs it’s hired to do from voice to data. That shift is disruptive to incumbents because they built their businesses around operator distribution and operator service economics. With apps, mobile computing brings with it services which allow all communications to be independent of operators. Selling ringtones, maps, email and video-on-demand are all dead business plans today. But operators clung on to these hopes for many years and forced vendors to comply to this strategy.The incumbents relied so much on the telecom value chain, where the value flows from the monthly service charge, that they would not deploy technologies or business models that were asymmetric to operator business models. This is the root cause for Nokia and Samsung and Motorola and LG “missing the boat” on smartphones. All the vendors had the pieces of technology on their shelves. But when they took these technologies to their customers, the customers rejected the package.This is why entrants like RIM and Apple could easily gain a foothold and grow. They had modest volumes, sold new concepts like business email and new UIs with iconic designs, but did not go after the core business model. This is similar to how iPod/iTunes got a toehold with the record labels. By the time the disruption took hold, operators were addicted to the new high-ARPU being generated even though they were all pure bitpipe plans. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, so the new device brands stuck…

read more via The iPhone is not superfluous, not easily copied, not revolutionary and not a premium product | asymco.

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