[Linux-aus] ms vs linux again (was Nomination for Ordinary Committee Members)
ianw at gelato.unsw.edu.au
Fri Jan 6 11:21:02 UTC 2006
On Fri, Jan 06, 2006 at 12:11:09PM +1100, Martin Pool wrote:
> I suggest you read "The Innovator's Dilemma". (Not that it precisely
> corresponds to this situation -- books rarely do -- but it's an
> interesting book.) The gist of his thesis is that many innovative
> technologies start out as toys that can't be taken seriously by
> established producers or their customers.
To expand on this a bit, Christensen talks about "disruptive
technologies". They are technologies that start out under performing
their established counterparts, but typically have features that
fringe (i.e. new) customers value, and are usually cheaper, simpler
The reason they succeed is that on a graph with performance on the
Y-axis and time on the X-axis, performance demanded by both low end
and high end customers is a flat, slightly increasing line with time.
High end customers start out further up the performance axis, but both
lines grow slowly; this essentially comes down to "if it 'aint
broken". The performance offered by these disruptive technologies is
however a very steep line, as they develop quickly.
The performance line of the disruptive technology starts out below
even the low end customer required performance, but quickly meets it.
It takes longer, but eventually it intersects with the high end
producer too. In this time, existing producers have been developing
their existing offerings above even the high end customer lines, and
consequently overshoot with offerings that don't meet the market. I'm
sure off hand anyone can think of several situations that have ended
up like this. The book goes on to discuss how you can try to manage
these disruptive technologies.
This sort of thing doesn't just apply to electronic technology. I
have several friends in the medical area, and doctors have largely
been blind-sided by the possibility of specialist trained nurses being
able to prescribe pharmaceuticals. Do I need a doctor to prescribe
antibiotics for a sore throat? Many react with the same FUD you might
expect from a SCO press release (you're all going to die!).
Unfortunately the book doesn't discuss Linux, giving the disruptive
technologies up against Windows as TCP/IP and Java, but definitely
worth a read.
ianw at gelato.unsw.edu.au
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