Disruptive innovation is nothing new to the world. In fact, there have probably been more market disruptors in the last 20 years than there were in the last 200. Take for example the disruptive innovation of digital photography. Up until the mid 1990’s most consumers were still using film based cameras to take pictures. But as a result of the new technology, film based companies were mostly obsolete within a few years and even Kodak, the world leader in film was almost bankrupted. This disruptive innovation started small but essentially ceased all film manufacturing. Disruptive innovations are generally classified as a “smaller company fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses” according to the article, “What is Disruptive Innovation”. It is in this context we need to explore augmented reality (AR) as a disruptive innovation or simply as an useful enhancement tool.
While many of us think of augmented reality (AR) as a new piece of emerging technology that could take over an industry, we should take a moment to look at how long AR has been around. While the technology itself has been around for multiple decades, the first real commercialized use of it was in 2003 when the NFL added the first-down line to its overhead field camera. Many people didn’t even realize we were experiencing AR, the assumption was just another neat graphic the people at Fox Sports added to the game for Sunday nights. But it provides insight to how AR isn’t necessarily a disruptive innovation.
Another, more recent example of AR would be the introduction of Snapchat’s “Lens” feature released in 2015 that used faced detection technology. Or the world-famous Pokémon Go, which captivated user when launched in 2016 and has grossed more than $2 billion dollars worldwide and downloaded over 400 million times. Both of these AR applications generated enormous amounts of money but they didn’t disrupt an industry. Consumers weren’t dropping all other apps to utilize Pokémon Go as their all-in-one smart phone platform. Nor were users leaving behind cell phones to use Snapchat as a new platform for being connected. In order to be a disruptive innovation, a technology can’t just be profitable, it needs to target overlooked segments and gain position because of better functionality and usually at a lower price to consumers.
After reading the article of “What is Disruptive Innovation” and taking into consideration Temple University’s MIS 5001 and MKTG 5406 final project, AR isn’t necessarily a disruptive innovation. Each student will surely develop excellent uses for their AR presentations and even potentially develop a real-life application, but will they disrupt an industry or more likely will they provide a useful tool to aid a business? Or even worse, will AR fail in the same ways virtual reality failed in the 1990’s? In my opinion, AR isn’t going anywhere but I’d like to see a project that takes it to the next level.
Christensen, Clayton M; Raynor, Michael E.; Mcdonald, Roy (2015, Decembet) What Is Disruptive Innovation? Harvard Business Review.
Isberto, Michael (2018, May 9th) The History of Augmented Reality. Colocation America
Leave a Reply