One of the most important rules of successful innovation is to develop technologies for new markets where industry stalwarts have no status quo to protect — and no need to steal someone else’s customer to succeed. In management-speak, this is called “taking root in disruption.”
One example Christensen points to is the rise of the personal computer. The original Apple II computer was targeted at kids — the only customers willing to play around with such a dorky machine. But as PCs improved, parents started paying attention. By listening to these new customers, Apple and rival PC makers were able ultimately to unseat the computing incumbents, who were still focused on mainframes and other large, professional computers.
According to Christensen, a company with a new technology has only a 6% chance of success if it tries to make a similar but better product than an incumbent and sell it to the same customers. By contrast, he says, the chances of success for a “disruptive strategy” are 33%.
Equally important is the principle that new technologies should disrupt competitors, not customers. Too often, new technologies try to make customers change the way they do things. Instead, Christensen says, innovation should help customers do things they already do more easily, conveniently, and for less money.
Interesting points for us to ponder when we start marketing our products.