There are five factors that make any disruptive innovation really successful.
# Something complex must become very simple to use
# What was exclusively enjoyed by some people must become affordable to everyone
# What was hard to reach and found must become easily accessible for everyone’s convenience
# It must satisfy a new set of users, neophilics or consumers
# It must be something better, cheaper, friendlier etc.
Clayton Christenson’s the pioneer in the though leadership of disruptive innovation points out that “Disruptions often don’t involve big technological breakthroughs. Rather, they involve mastering the intricate art of the simple solution”. In other words disruption is a simplification of a complex solution that existed before them. Disruptions on simplicity help customers do more easily and effectively. For example Steve Jobs wanted a single button operation for iPhone to make it simpler than all mobile phones available at that time.
Moreover the simplicity factor enables consumers to easily adapt to new behavioural changes that technology brings about. For example the simplicity of iPad had created a new market of disruption to the users who never used a PC before. The simplicity of ecommerce has made air travel booking simpler. The simplicity of stock picking online is now disrupting the stock sales from a floor. Bottom-line simplicity simply disrupts.
Disruptive innovation makes product or services widely available to people at affordable prices. This enables customers to purchase products and services that were once enjoyed by some exclusive groups. For example General Electric introduced several healthcare revolutionary products like a $ 1,000 priced handheld electrocardiogram (ECG) device and a portable, PC-based ultrasound machine priced at $15,000 for Indian and Chinese markets. The affordability (low price) and the minimized size of the offering in comparison to their expensive counterparts made it a great success in many countries.
3. Accessibility & Convenience:
Disruptions pave way to product or service that can be easily accessible because of its convenience in application generating wider acceptance. Disruptive innovation increases the accessibility of the innovation to a new set of users and customers who have historically lacked the money or skills to get important jobs done. For example the GE Medical Systems Group introduced the ECG machine for rural India called MAC 400 with a built in printer that operates on batteries making the product accessible and convenient to rural regions.
One of the reasons why iPods succeeded in the market place while many other MP3 players failed was the convenience of organizing music in the iTunes. Steve Jobs explained in a 2006 Newsweek interview: “We had the hardware expertise, the industrial design expertise, and the software expertise, including iTunes. One of the biggest insights we [had] was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless.”
4. Divergence of a new category:
Disruptive innovations have the power to develop new market. It turns non-consumers into consumers. When Rollin King and Herb Kelleher cofounded the economy airline Southwest Airlines in 1967; they wanted to compete with the travel fares of bus and train options. As a result they created a new user group of airline travelers who preferred the economy airline. For Southwest it was a birth of a new category- the low cost economy airline. At first, some disruptions are targeted at a new user group and then it spreads to the mainstream market.
The introduction of a new category paves ways to disruptions. For example ‘Red Bull’ is the number one selling energy drink in the world. It started in Austria in 1987 by Dietrich Mateschitz, who based his drink on ‘kating daeng’, a popular health tonic, he had encountered in Thailand during one of his visits. He made Red Bull very distinctive, packed them in smaller 200 ml cans, quite different from the cola market of 330 ml can packing and he called it ‘energy drink’. From that date a new category was born all together.
5. Improved performance:
In most cases the adaptation of the disruptive innovation would gradually result in increase of the performance of a product or service that has undergone the innovation. This increase in the performance would steadily result in going beyond the imagination of the mainstream market of the product. The Netscape browser was the improved version of the Mosaic, later the Internet Explorer disrupted Netscape and Google Chrome has disrupted the Internet Explorer, and all these disruptions are based on the improved performance of speed making the browser experience a bit faster.
Apple iPod has all the attributes of a disruptive innovation. It has the simplicity of design and application with a high degree of accessibility through iStore, convenience for arranging music through iTunes, affordability price and superior digital performance etc., to make it a market success in a new category of Mp3 players.