How Cross-boundary Disruption-from-above Superseded Incumbents’ Sustaining Innovation in the Mobile Industry: Qualitative, Graphical and Computational Insights

How Cross-boundary Disruption-from-above Superseded Incumbents’ Sustaining Innovation in the Mobile Industry: Qualitative, Graphical and Computational Insights

By Robert A. Burgelman, John K. Thomas
August 2018Working Paper No. 3705

This study of the transformation of the mobile device industry examines how cross-boundary disruption (XBD) superseded the incumbents’ sustaining innovation, which helps explain the rapid rise of Apple and Google Android and the equally rapid fall of Nokia and other incumbents between 2007 and 2013. Four concatenated strategic factors limited the incumbents’ capacity to adapt: (1) incumbents’ market myopia about latent unserved needs of the high-end customer segment, (2) incumbents’ dynamic capabilities gaps for meeting these needs, (3) demand shift timing of high-end customers toward the disruptors’ radically innovative products, and (4) the rapid growth of novel ecosystems around the disruptors’ technology platforms.  Graphical interpretation further elucidates these concatenated strategic factors and suggests computational implications. The paper’s qualitative, graphical and computational insights help formulate a conceptual framework of XBD-from-above, which contributes to theory development about inter-industry disruption and transformation. 

Keywords
cross-boundary disruption-from-above, sustaining innovation, incumbent market myopia, incumbent dynamic capabilities gap, incumbent demand shift timing, disruptor ecosystem growth, signal processing and dynamic capabilities, inter-industry dynamics