Scott Anthony: Is Chrome OS a "Disruptive Innovation?"
Last week Google sent shockwaves through the technology world when it announced plans to introduce an operating system in fall 2010. Pundits quickly termed Chrome OS "classic disruptive innovation" that promised to up-end historic market leader Microsoft. Do the pundits have it right?
Harvard Business School Professor and Innosight co-founder Clayton Christensen coined the term "disruptive innovation" to describe a pattern he observed across a range of industries where an entrant would transform what existed or create what didn't through simplicity, convenience, affordability, and accessibility.
Recent disruptive innovations include Nintendo's Wii gaming console, General Electric's $2,500 echocardiograph machine and Tata's $3,000 nano automobile.
At Innosight, we've helped dozens of companies recognize and respond to disruptive developments, and we've developed a straightforward set of tests to assess a strategy's disruptive potential. Running Chrome OS through the assessment suggests significant disruptive potential—but some real questions as well.
The first part of the assessment looks at the degree to which the would-be disruptor has picked an appropriate "foothold" approach to start their disruptive march.
Google's planned foothold in the netbook market fits the three characteristics common to high-potential disruptors.