Remember cellphones in the early 1990s? They were either installed in a car or you had to carry a bulky bag around with you–that is, if you could get decent signal. Few then thought they would become the ubiquitous devices they are today.
Cellphones were a “disruptive innovation.” That’s the process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. The term was coined by Clay Christensen, a professor at Harvard Business School.
Christensen has written plenty of books about the phenomenon. And later this month he is coming out with a book co-written with Henry J. Eyring about how it might impact higher education (The Innovative University: Changing the DNA of Higher Education From the Inside Out).