The term disruptive innovation was brought into the lexicon by Clayton M. Christensen in his book “The Innovator’s Dilemma,” in the context of businesses adopting technologies that eventually completely surpass or replace previous technologies, possibly harming whichever business backed the wrong technology. A disruptive technology is something new that disrupts an industry, and quite often completely changes the way we all do things.
The car disrupted the horse and carriage industries. Small personal computers have given individuals computing power that only used to be possible via the huge mainframes that crunched numbers exclusively in corporate, academic and government institutions. Computers and all the things that have come along with them have wreaked havoc in any number of industries. Even on a smaller scale, individual components of home computers have gone through cycles of disruption, such as the evolution of the various sorts of storage media (think floppy drives to CDs to flash drives), and the move from desktop computers to more portable laptops to even smaller mobile devices.
The new disruptive items aren’t even necessarily better or more powerful. They might cause disruption by being cheap or simple enough for mass adoption, and then, as is the case with most computing devices, they grow faster, more powerful and better over time. There is the common refrain of consumers not even knowing they needed something until it was brought into being, and that’s true of many disruptive technologies.
Here are 10 disruptive technologies that many people are now using on a regular basis. We may be able to recall their predecessors fondly, but we probably don’t really miss them very much.