Disruptive Innovations

Over the past few weeks, I have been exploring the Disruptive Innovations theory. To present my findings I’ve created a 5 minute podcast and to help you follow along with the podcast, here is the transcript.

Hi there! Welcome to Deliberation on DMS Radio, I’m Ellen Kaldis. Today, we’re going to go be exploring disruptive innovations, a theory coined by Harvard Professor, Clayton Christensen.

Scott Anthony, author of The Innovators Guide to Growth explains:

“Disruptive innovation is a particular type of innovation that occurs when an innovator brings to a market an innovation that is simple, that is convenient, accessible, affordable, changing the game,” (Harvard Business Review, 2008).


Initially, a disruptive innovation will underperform a primary function of an existing product appreciated by mainstream consumers (Flew, 2014). However, the innovation performs better in some alternate characteristic and unexpectedly opens up a new niche market of different consumers. Other factors influencing the adoption of the innovation include ease of use or availability at lower cost (Flew, 2014). Over time, the disruptive innovation improves on performing the primary function to the extent that it eventually appeals to the mainstream consumers who initially shunned it and thus displaces earlier technologies and established competitors (Schmidt & Druel, 2008).

The Tablet

One of the most successful disruptive innovations has been the tablet, a highly portable, touch screen device (Cortimiglia, Frank & Seben, 2013). The first versions of tablets offered lower performance in areas that were important to mainstream consumers, including limited storage space, slow processing abilities and no keyboards (Frost, 2014). The characteristics of a tablet are radically different from products that existed before its invention. Tablets have also disrupted other technologies and markets as they are replacing books, newspapers and magazines (Frost, 2014). Apple’s iPad is driving the niche tablet industry and has been described as “arguably the most disruptive tech force out there”, (Collins, Rabby & Brown, 2013, p. 62). IPads are considerably cheaper than traditional Apple products such as laptops or desktop PC’s and with each update, are becoming more capable of being a substitute for these technologies (Mojonnier, 2012). Christensen (2013) states that there is so much more to using the iPad than price, functionality and convenience. It facilitates consumption of the Internet and provides a completely new, engaging and compelling way of interacting with media and information (Christensen, 2013)


Skype is another disruptive innovation that has rapidly changed the telecommunications landscape (Rao, Angelov & Nov, 2006). The technology allows customers to call and message on the same interface, more conveniently and for a fraction of the price of traditional communication services. Skype is the fusion of two unique disruptive innovations, Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP) and peer-to-peer (P2P) computing. Skype has a range of functionalities and features including instant messaging, file sharing, simple user-interface and a global and decentralized user directory (Rao, Angelov & Nov, 2006). It is a faster and more convenient method of accessing files and content over the Internet. The quality of Skype is not inferior in performance to existing services, contrary to Christensen’s theory. However, it is offered at a lower cost. Skype has been downloaded over 2 billion times and continues to grow, reaching a wider and critical mass of consumers.


The third disruptive innovation is wearables. Wearables are computerized products that offer smartphone and Bluetooth functions and collect information about a person and their body (Sung-won, 2013). These devices include the Fitbit band to track steps taken and calories burned, the June Bracelet from Netamo to monitor sunlight exposure and Google glasses (Nunes & Downes, 2014). However, wearables have struggled to move from a niche application to a mainstream product for a number of reasons. First, the technology sphere does not understand how to design these products in a fashionable way. Second, consumers are experiencing short battery life and charging issues with wearables. Third, the usefulness is also disappearing as wearing a gadget is being undermined by sensors embedded invisibly in other existing products (McCullagh, 2014).

To end today’s session; Scott Anthony summarizes disruptive innovation.

“We think about a very particular type of innovation, one that creates an entirely new market or transforms an existing one by playing the innovation game, differently,” (Anthony, 2008).

For more information, check out www.socialmediatacticsellenkaldis.wordpress.com. Thanks for joining me on Deliberation on DMS Radio; I’ll catch you next time.


Anthony, S. (July 14, 2008). What Is Disruptive Innovation? [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L66OH-x7a4

Cortimiglia, M. N., Frank, A. G., & Seben, L. (2013). Tablets: The Next Disruptive Computing Technology? IT Professional, 15(3), 18-25. doi:10.1109/MITP.2012.117

Collins, S., Rabby, M., & Brown, T. (2013). Few students willing to pay for tablet news content. Newspaper Research Journal, 34(1), 62-73. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1353017501?accountid=26503

Christensen, C. M. (2013). Disruptive Innovation. In Soegaard, M. & Dam, R. F. (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction (2nd ed). Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation.

(Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/disruptive_innovation.html)

Flew, T. (2014). New Media: An Introduction (4th Ed.). Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Frost, R. (2014). What characteristics make the iPad a disruptive technology? Retrieved from http://www.quora.com/What-characteristics-make-the-iPad-a-disruptive-technology

Harvard Business Review. (October 20, 2008). How To Spot Disruptive Innovation Opportunities [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGzXWO_anLI

MCcullagh, K. (2014). Why wearable devices will never be as disruptive as smartphones. Retreived from http://www.fastcodesign.com/3025180/why-wearable-devices-will-never-be-as-disruptive-as-smartphones

Mojonnier, T. (2012). Apple’s New iPad: A Disruptive Innovation. Retrieved from http://businesstheory.com/newipad-disruptive-innovatio/

Moore, D. & Hebeler, J. (2002). Peer-to-Peer: Building Secure, Scalable and Manageable Networks. Osborne: McGraw-Hill.

Nunes, P. & Downes, L. (2014). The Five Most Disriptive Innovations at CES 2014. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/bigbangdisruption/2014/01/10/the-five-most-disruptive-innovations-at-ces-2014/

Rao, B., Angelov, B., & Nov, O. (2006). Fusion of disruptive technologies. European Management Journal, 24(2), 174-188. doi:10.1016/j.emj.2006.03.007

Schmidt, G. M. & Druehl, C. T. (2008). When Is a Disruptive Innovation Disruptive? Journal of Product Innovation Management, 25(4), 347–369. Doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5885.2008.00306.x

Sung-Won, J. (2013). Seven disruptive innovations for future industries. SERI Quarterly, 6(3), 94-98,10. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1428553684?accountid=26503


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