Christensen’s work has provided an excellent model for understanding how new technology can overtake and replace existing technology.
The market-dominating technology will continue to improve (sustaining innovation) at a rate faster than customer requirements grow with respect to a particular performance metric. New, disruptive technology will often gain a foothold in some other application where it offers an advantage like lower cost. While the disruptive technology initially has worse performance than the leading technology, it too will improve until it can match customer expectations. Once the performance gap is closed between what a technology can provide and what a customer can use, competition shifts to some other metric. At this point, the new technology can disruptively unseat the former leader.
This is a powerful model to use when thinking about technology start-ups and where a market may be heading.
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