06:12 AM

If Internet 1.0 was a disruptive technology…where is the train wreck?

by Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

I was thinking back to the birth of the mass PC market, which began with Apple Computer and grew into the single largest computer industry. PC technologies clearly are a powerful technology and they carry that characteristic of all game-changing, powerful technologies--they are disruptive technologies.

You could see where the disruption happened: among the minicomputer and mainframe computer companies, and in those companies that were stranded on small islands of users, with proprietary computer architectures.

The East Coast Route 128 companies such as Wang, DEC, and others in Silicon Valley, all became disrupted by very cheap and effective PC computing technologies. IBM only made it through by the skin of its teeth and a massive mainframe user base as a buffer.

The other characteristic of a disruptive technology is that its victims often can do very little about it. They can’t get out of its way. They can see that light in the tunnel and they know it’s a train coming towards them--but they can’t change direction fast enough. It becomes a slow-motion train wreck.

There is no doubting that the Internet is a powerful technology, and therefore it must be a disruptive technology. But where is the disruption in the tech sector? Intel, HP, IBM, Cisco and all the other well-established tech companies are still here, post the Internet revolution.

Yes, some names such as Compaq have disappeared, but the M&A is due to the continued play-out of the PC technologies disruptive effect--not the Internet.

And the dotcom dotboms were disrupted by the glut they created--not the Internet. So if the Internet is a disruptive technology, where is the train wreck?

Part II of this essay is here.