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By Hank Russell
Sometimes the quality of a product outstrips a logical price point, and the marketplace requires new, more affordable and convenient technology. This disruptive technology can be found in many technologies, including the mobile video market.
More than 200 industry experts, venture capitalists and media congregated at Kopin Vision 2005 in Westborogh, MA. This event, which coincided with Kopin Inc.'s 20th anniversary, was a chance for the attendees to learn more about the disruptive mobile video market.
The event's keynote speaker was Clayton M. Christensen, the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston. Christensen terms some technologies that enter the marketplace as disruptive. "I use the word 'disruptive' not because it was a breakthrough improvement," he says, "but instead of sustaining this trajectory of improvement, it is disrupted and redefined by bringing to the market a product that was worse and not better than the products that had been historically available."
This disruptive technology, he adds, was low-quality, but at the same time was affordable and convenient. "It could take root in a demanding application and then improve at such a rapid rate that it intersected with the needs of the mainstream customers a bit later, and it turned out, almost invariably, entrant companies killed the incumbent leaders when one of these disruptive technologies came into the marketplace."
Christensen recalled a meeting with Intel Chairman Andy Grove to discuss his company's move to develop higher-end processors, bypassing the lower-end market. Grove thought that it was not a technological problem, but a business model problem. "The leaders in the industry here in the blue space try to grab this technology and instead of deploying it in a simple application, they try to deploy it in the most complicated application for perfectly rational reasons," Christensen says. "It causes them to spend billions of dollars and they almost always fail.