Technology is like a dog; each year of it seems like the equivalent of seven human years — at least when you get to the end of it and realize it’s only been 12 months since that now indispensable service first launched. We spent 2009 documenting technology’s disruption of how we live, entertain ourselves and do business. Looking back on the year from the comfortable perch of December, here are the seven most disruptive developments of 2009.
Tag: disruptive technology
Each period of business history has its own representative corporate type. The 1960s were the age of the conglomerate. In more recent decades, the startup has achieved iconic status. But the kind of organization that marks our own historical moment is, arguably, the turnaround company.
For Blockbuster, the advent of DVDs in the mail was a disruptive technology. The chain relied initially on bulky videotapes and late fees to generate a fat revenue stream, and its scale was huge; smaller, independent stores gradually left the market. Netflix opened a new battlefront, mailing thin DVDs and letting customers keep a disc as long as they wanted. Blockbuster saw the change coming. It even took action, setting up its own mail service. But seeds of destruction had been sown, and Blockbuster is now financially troubled. Netflix, meanwhile, is already embracing technology shifts that will make those red envelopes a quaint memory. Creative destruction has such a cataclysmic sound. But the term, coined by the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter to show how capitalism destroys companies as more innovative ones succeed, describes a process that is more like a slow-motion train wreck.
We stopped by the LG Electronics booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to talk to Josh Lovison, practice lead for gaming and mobile at IPG's Emerging Media Lab. For all the talk about 3-D TVs, widgets, e-readers and tablets, Mr. Lovison thinks the most disruptive technology on display at CES is one that has been talked about a long time, but is quickly coming to fruition: 4G mobile networks.