Disruptive Design

We often think of market trends as being driven by disruptive technologies.

Cloud computing is fueled by pervasive broadband networks and commodity server hardware. Smartphones are driven by low-cost microprocessors and high-speed wireless networks. Big data is created by massive online datasets and new distributed computing frameworks.

But while new technology is required, it is usually great design that disrupts markets.

It’s easy to think of examples. The iPhone certainly wasn’t the first smartphone, but its design reshaped the wireless industry. Server-side applications were nothing new, but it took Salesforce.com show that this method could be used to deliver a superior user experience. Dropbox made online backups work for users, rather than the other way around. Ruby/Rails, Python/Django, Backbone.js/Node.js, and MongoDB are doing the same for developers; when’s the last time you heard of a non-legacy product team developing in .NET or Oracle?

It is fun to think of other markets that have yet to be impacted by disruptive design, despite the required technology being in place. TV is a great example. Many TVs now ship with microprocessors and Internet connectivity, but in most ways the experience of watching cable is the same now as it was 20 years ago.

Similarly, utilities have spent much of the past five years installing smart meters on the sides of houses across the country. Yet for most Americans the process of consuming electricity is exactly the same as it was before this technology was installed.

At Gray Duck Labs, we love working on projects with disruptive design potential. Have an idea? Get in touch!

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