A consistent pattern in business is the failure of a leading company to stay at the top of their industry when technologies or markets change. Why is it that even when an established company invests aggressively--and successfully--in the technologies necessary to retain their current customers they still fail to make the technological investments that customers of the future will demand? The fundamental reason is that the leading company succumbs to one of the most popular, and valuable, management dogmas: they stay too close their customers. To remain at the top of their industry, managers must first be able to spot new disruptive technologies. To pursue these technologies, managers must protect them from the processes and incentives that are geared to serving mainstream customers. And the only way to do that is to create organizations that are completely independent of the mainstream business.
Disruptive Innovation in the Smartphone Market
As the year progresses I am excited too see what will become of the Android operating system. From the outset Google looks to have created and managed this disruptive technology in a way that should enable the masses to utilize the power of the smartphone in their daily lives.
Where does that leave the iPhone? Well, hopefully a healthy competitor, but you never know. If we put Apple into the mold of the leading company in the music player market we see that the iPhone is not much more than a music player with additional functionality. Combine that with its locked in and interdependent (non-modular) system of operation and you will see a company who's products are lining up perfectly for failure within the next 5 years.
Application to Education
Educators should take note. Don't rush into locking yourselves in with Apple's product line. Take advantage of the weak economy and wait a year to see just how well Android is performing. Perhaps, it will be the better choice in both the short and long term.