Are You A Disrupter?

Are disruptive engineering efforts welcome?

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I read a fascinating article recently about how to be a disrupter and how to avoid being disrupted. It goes through the characteristics of a disrupter such as: unencumbered development, unconstrained growth, new product cycles and undisciplined strategy.

It also gives the example of how the standalone GPS unit market tanked in a matter of two weeks once smartphone mapping apps became available. Two weeks!

I’ve been thinking about this concept because I’m considering defecting from my iPhone 4 to an Android smartphone with a (much) larger screen, great battery life, and really cool widgets. I am reluctant to admit that I’ve considered this so I can see the screen without the glasses I need but am trying to avoid wearing.

Is Apple keeping up with what consumers really want? This thought has crossed my mind a number of times as I do a side by side comparison of my iPhone, which looks a little clunky next to a sleek Motorola RAZR. Given that battery life is no longer the deciding factor in a purchasing decision, who is really doing the disrupting in smartphones these days? Consumers will vote with their wallets and I hope Apple decides to keep pace.

This topic also makes me think about the challenges of design engineers that may want to be disrupters but are constrained by a company structure that doesn’t allow for it. I hope as market pressures increase, we will see more welcome for disruptive engineering efforts.

~Ann Steffora Mutschler