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Are you a target for disruption?

Disruptive innovation in development of new productsHave you seen the commercials yet for Sharp’s new four color TV’s. You know, the ones with George Takei, Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu, dressed up like some kind of TV scientist while delivering his campy trademark “Oh My!”

Wondering what it has to do with development of new products? It’s just one of many recent indicators that the flat screen TV market is an over-served market ripe for disruption – something you might want to think about in your own new product development processes.


Traditional video is based on three colors (Red, Green, and Blue), and the addition of a fourth color, yellow, allows Sharp’s new Quatron technology to reproduce over 100 times more shades for those with an eye for color. The problem is that RGB flat screen technology is good enough for the vast majority of us.

That’s why, in a classic sign of an over-served market ripe for disruption, Sharp is not charging a higher price for this sustaining improvement to LED technology – even with the extra cost and complexity that it must add. Actually, they are entering at a lower price than comparable Samsung and LG TV’s.

So what’s going on here? Simply the time honored march of disruption, where initially under-performing technologies get faster, better and cheaper allowing them to compete on new dimensions of performance. In this case, those dimensions are thin, lightweight design and lower energy usage.

In the television market, traditional tube TV’s were initially disrupted by plasma technology which offered a thin , flat, format. Plasma technology was then disrupted by LCD technology which offered thinner designs and lower energy usage. Now, LED’s are starting to replace LCD’s by offering energy efficiency and razor thin designs.

To determine of your market is ripe for disruption, just ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my market over-served?
  2. Do I constantly have to add performance just to keep prices from falling?
  3. Do added features and benefits bring me any margin?
  4. Are there alternative technologies which are lower performing but are getting better over time?

Next time we’ll talk about the implications for managing your new product development processes.

Let us know what you think or share your stories of disruption by leaving a comment below.

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