Friday, April 11, 2003

T-Mobile Embraces Disruptive Technology

Good-Bye 3G – Hello Wi-Fi Frappuccino. One of the ( perhaps too often repeated) themes around here is always about how businesses should keep an eye out for disruptive technologies and be ready to embrace them before they take over a legacy business. Unfortunately, there are plenty of examples of companies failing to do this – and not many of companies that really do embrace new technologies before it’s too late. So, while this isn’t a new story, and we still don’t know how it will turn out, it’s good to see an article saying that this is exactly why T-Mobile USA is embracing WiFi. When T-Mobile USA’s chairman heard Michael Dell say that all Dell laptops would soon include WiFi, he realized that it was a disruptive technology that would have an impact on his business. That’s what led to T-Mobile’s eventual acquisition of MobileStar, and subsequent push into the WiFi hotspot business. Though I’m still not convinced T- Mobile has the business model proposition figured out correctly, this is still an excellent example of recognizing a disruptive technology and moving to embrace it – rather than denying its existence. [Techdirt]

Good to see some folks digging into this in a bit more detail. I’m a T-Mobile subscriber (both for my GSM cell phone and for their WiFi access), and have been very happy with their service.

On a related note, I’ve been intrigued by the notion of disruptive innovations ever since reading The Innovator’s Dilemma, a fantastic book about disruptive technology innovations by Clayton Christensen. If you haven’t read it, go pick it up. It’s very accessible, and reveals some surprising conclusions about how companies can stay viable.

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