If you believe the rumors, Amazon.com is going to enter the mobile phone business this week, with most pundits guessing that a mysterious video suggest that it will release a phone with novel 3-D viewing capabilities.
There are obvious reasons for Amazon to be eying the category. The mobile phone industry is massive, with close to 2 billion devices shipped annually and total spending on wireless-related services of more than $1.6 trillion across the world. As mobile devices increasingly serve as the center of the consumer’s world, their importance to a range of companies is increasing.
What should you watch for on Wednesday’s launch to see if Amazon is moving in the right direction? It is natural to start with the set of features that Amazon includes on its phone.
One of the basic principles behind Clayton Christensen’s famous conception of disruptive innovation is that the fundamental things people try to do in their lives actually change relatively slowly. The world advances not because our needs, hopes, and desires change, but because innovators come up with different and better ways to help us do what we were always trying to get done.
Take the big shifts in the music business. People have enjoyed listening to music for all of recorded history. But the biggest industry transformations came when innovators made it simpler and easier for people to listen to the music they want, where they want, and when they want. Thomas Edison’s phonograph was the first big democratization of music, allowing individuals to listen to music without having to hire a live performer, train to be a musician, or go to a concert. Sending sound through the airwaves, received in a radio, furthered this trend, enabling people to hear live sound remotely, or hear a wider variety of pre-recorded music.
Scott Anthony is the managing partner of Innosight.