A recent article in The Economist, citing the work of Ryan Raffaelli at Harvard Business School, points to what it calls a “paradox” in the aftermath of disruptive innovation.
Some old technologies, after being rendered obsolete by better and cheaper alternatives (indeed even after whole industries based on them have been decimated), manage to “re-emerge” to the point that they sustain healthy businesses. Think mechanical Swiss watches, now enjoying strong sales. Or fountain pens, or vinyl records. Or small-batch, handmade goods — from vermouth to chocolate to pickles.
We could add our own favorite example: pinball. In our HBR article “Big Bang Disruption”, we describe the devastation of arcade pinball machines wrought in only a few years by Sony’s PlayStation home video console. From a historic high in 1993 of 130,000 machines sold, sales fell over 90% in the next five years. By the end of the decade, only one producer—Stern Pinball—was left making new machines, and with arcades closing daily, it looked as if it, too, would soon be facing game over....
Via Jeff Domansky