I don’t know how many times over the last few years that I’ve had bits of Clayton Christensen’s book The Innovator‘s Dilemma quoted at me. It’s been a lot. This morning, barely awake, and unlike Lieutenant Commander Data, not really fully functional, I read an article written by Chris Dixon titled The Next Big Thing Will Start Out Looking Like a Toy.
Now I’ve seen a lot of changes, many of which affected foundation technologies, and which were therefore not visible to the general public, but which had huge effects on the technologies that the general public uses. So I have this feeling that Chris is both right and wrong in his article.
Yes, Chris is right. The innovations that the General Public sees will look like toys.
No, Chris is wrong. The innovations in the Foundation Technologies will not look like toys. A Fuel Injection system for an Internal Combustion Engine doesn’t look like a toy. An advanced battery to power an electric car doesn’t look like a toy. The 3-Way catalytic converter (introduced in 1984) didn’t look like a toy.
And this is a point where I believe that the “Innovator’s Dilemma” may have an issue (and is why I need to actually read the book). There is a huge difference between what the General Public sees, and the technologies that make up the building blocks for what the General Public sees.
Foundation Technologies don’t look like, and are not toys. The first cell phone, well yes, compared to the advanced house phones of the time it looked like a toy.