Sunday January 19, 2003

Disruptive Technologies

by Jay F. Davis,

I went to a presentation last Thursday (01.16.2003) titled the PricewaterhouseCoopers Tech Forecast and I came away thinking about disruptive technologies. Disruptive technologies are technologies that threaten to change computing business models by virtue of their low cost and good-enough-but-not-great capabilities. VHS VCRs and personal computers come to mind as perfect examples.

VHS VCRs were actually an inferior technology when compared to beta VCRs but VHS proved to be cheaper and good enough for consumers. Thus, it quickly killed off the beta VCR market. Likewise for personal computers when compared with mainframe computers. Mainframes only exist nowadays for specific very high-end purposes. Personal computers are much cheaper and good enough for most computing purposes.

One of the next disruptive technologies is Wifi (wireless 802.11) internet access. Sorry Earthlink and baby telcos, but Wifi is cheaper and good enough. The potential throughput is actually much inferior to wired internet access, but most people are not willing to pay the premium prices that wired fast internet access demands (at least $50/month).

Gordon X (can't remember his last name), showed a slide at the presentation that mapped current wifi availability on Manhattan island. Incredible! It seems that half the island is already wifi ready. You can walk around the city and get free internet access as long as you have a wifi card in your laptop!


Above article Last updated: 12 May 2004 02:16:16 PM

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