Disruptive technology

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“A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is an innovation that improves a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by being lower priced or designed for a different set of consumers.” (Wikipedia, retrieved 16:04, 24 June 2009 (UTC)).

“Disruptive technologies have features that a few fringe (and generally new) customers value. Products based on disruptive technologies are typically cheaper to produce, simpler, smaller, better performing, and, frequently, more convenient to use.” (What do you mean by the term disruptive technology?, retrieved 16:04, 24 June 2009 (UTC).

“Disruptive Technologies enable us to think in dimensions we didn’t think of, and in that lies their utility and power. These help us expand our knowledge base as a society and as individuals and solve problems we didn’t quite know as problems. The trouble is, it’s difficult to segregate a disruptive technology from chaos that surrounds research, from all the hyperbole that accompanies every new product or technology launch announcement. There is no mantra that can enable you to distinguish between a disruptive technology that can alter the landscape and marketing fluff most organizations indulge in. The only true test is time, the only testbed the entire mass of users on the Internet.” (The Importance of Disruptive Technologies, retrieved 16:04, 24 June 2009 (UTC)).

Examples of disruptive technologies

  • Desktop printers (replace print shops to some extent)
  • Wikis like Wikipedia (collective expertise instead of expensive compiled expert knowledge)
  • Wiki books and similar (cheap self-publishing)
  • Fab labs (replace manufacturers to some extent)



  • Anthony, Scott D., Johnson, Mark W., Sinfield, Joseph V., Altman, Elizabeth J. (2008). Innovator's Guide to Growth - Putting Disruptive Innovation to Work - Foreword by Clayton M. Christensen. Harvard Business School Press. ISBN 13-9781591398462 .
  • Christensen, Clayton M. (2003), The innovator's dilemma : the revolutionary book that will change the way you do business, New York: HarperCollins, ISBN 0-06-052199-6.
  • Christensen, Clayton M., Baumann, Heiner, Ruggles, Rudy, & Sadtler, Thomas M. (2006). "Disruptive Innovation for Social Change" Harvard Business Review, December 2006.
  • Danneels, Erwin (2004), “Disruptive Technology Reconsidered: A Critique and Research Agenda,” Journal of Product Innovation Management, 21 (4): 246-258 PDF
  • Klang, M. (2006). Disruptive Technology: Effects of Technology Regulation on Democracy. IT-University, Göteborg, Doctoral dissertation. PDF.