The iPhone is a sustaining technology relative to Nokia. In other words, Apple is leaping ahead on the sustaining curve [by building a better phone]. But the prediction of the theory would be that Apple won’t succeed with the iPhone. They’ve launched an innovation that the existing players in the industry are heavily motivated to beat: It’s not [truly] disruptive. History speaks pretty loudly on that, that the probability of success is going to be limited.

– Clay Christensen interviewed by Jean McGregor in Clayton Christensen’s Innovation Brain via Businessweek

Amazing how someone like Christensen can create a lauded apparatus like his Innovator’s Dilemma model, based on technological/economics reasoning, derived from the lessons of the past, and then completely miss on the iPhone. Oh, and don’t forget all those internet appliances we were supposed to buy for the kitchen.

That’s one of the reasons I believe that coming at innovation from a speculative design orientation – while not as systems-based as technologic/economic approaches – leads to deeper insights.

Besides, looking backwards to predict what’s coming won’t work, because the only law that consistently worked in the past is the law of unintended consequences. Systems thinking can explain the past, but can’t feel the future.

(h/t John Gruber)

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