Disruptive Innovation and the Fight Against Monopolies

The cycle of creative innovation never ends. Everyday, new technologies are being developed and sold to consumers for profit, yet that doesn’t stop big businesses from attempting to halt its production or consumption. This “cycle” that Tim Wu describes in his book The Master Switch, acknowledges the constant ebb and flow of connectivity in the digital age in the hands of big-name monopolies. Wu uses several examples in his text to emphasize this tactic, such as the Bell company, which is more commonly known as AT&T. This company attempted to stop any form of disruptive innovation, a new product that threatened the consumer value of a previous product. I found this part of the text particularly interesting, as there are disruptive innovations all around us as disruptive_innovation_enablerstechnology continuously develops. Competitor monopolies such as Apple and Windows are constantly “one-upping” each other with new phones, computers, and tablets. As computers developed, it seemed DVD combo sets were becoming more obsolete, as streaming sites were making it easier for individuals to find TV shows and movies; and, to go back even further, television became a disruptive innovation to radio in the 50’s.

The disruptive innovation helps usher out old standards for technology in favor of new ones, but with this constant need for “bigger and better”, it’s likely that this is a phenomena that will go on for years to come. As Wu writes, “the Cycle is powered by disruptive innovations that upend once thriving industries bankrupt the dominant powers and chance the world” (20). Even though standards are established, they too are constantly changing along with people’s preferences, which affects which products will be seen on shelves and online. A compelling question is then brought up during Wu’s discussion of the Cycle: will the internet also eventually be faced with a disruptive innovation? This competition can be seen already with websites such as Myspace and Facebook. Wu states “The internet is about 15 years into its cycle as an open medium and at that moment in their cycle, most open media tend to turn to closed media.” The way he puts it is that the internet is a descendant from the radio and television industries, both which got technologically disrupted by something at some point. While the internet remains an open media source, it can be argued that radio was as well, and perhaps even the internet isn’t safe from the ever changing technological advancements.

Take a moment to consider AR and VR technologies. We use these tools for various different reasons, ranging from research to driving and surgical simulations. VR isn’tTobiiPro-VR-Integration-dev-kit-for-eye-tracking-r.jpg only considered a disruptive innovation for gaming systems or the internet, but it acts as a gateway to the outside world, allowing the viewer to go anywhere and see anything in the world. Because of this, it seems as if VR is a disruptive innovation for our very own lives. Still, this could have a severe impact on the way individuals regard the internet as more and more consumers obtain a system and slowly begin to utilize its features in favor of the internet.

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