Time and again, history has taught us that the technologically superior win — be it nations, civilizations, individuals or companies. The radio industry was booming till the early 1990s. But the mobile phone changed it all. Now, the radio industry is limited to only a few companies which are able to sell on the content they offer, rather than the technology.
Technology is not restricted to electronics as given below. It is also applicable for all types of machinery say mechanical, electrical, structural, mining and many other inter-engineering technologies.
Let us take the example of Automobiles. The engine design is modified several times over past few decades that automobiles from fuel guzzlers and comfort are now high speed, comfort and give mileage as much as 25 kmpl.
In elecricals the size of the motors is reducing giving more feasibility of usage. In addition there could be seen major technological improvements in generation, transmission and distribution. The digital meters we see at our homes is a recent one in India. All these aim at more efficiency, lesser space occupation and durability.
Structural engineering is improving continuously and as a result you find improved roads, long bridges, taller buildings etc. Again all are aimed at lesser cost, more load bearing, more traffic lanes and if it’s a building then more space to work for or live in.
Mining is aimed at more output through sophisticated machinery, safety factor and many other improvements.
The mobile is the perfect example of a technology which led a disruptive change among many industries. Companies tried to win against this technology rather than among themselves. The businesses around digital camera, personal computer, MP3 player, calculator all underwent a disruptive change.
Many, like camera makers, forayed into digital medium with high resolution as their forte. Others like the digital and wrist watch industry were severely impacted with the advent of mobile phone. Similarly, the snail mail industry and along with its mascot the erstwhile ubiquitous postman lost his job, all thanks to email and the internet. Interestingly, it is in war time that nations invest heavily in technologies to defeat each other. The most important technological innovation in present times date their origin to the cold war era between the US and the Soviet Union.
The ARPANET, came into existence as an internal communication network for the US department of defense, which was the first form of internet. The world’s first search engine, emailing technologies and instant messaging were also first invented for the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network). Similarly, today’s GPS (Global Positioning System) also dates its origins to the US DoD.
Google is an apt example of how a technological superiority can help overpower existing leadership. Google was a very late entrant in the search engine technology in 1998. Many popular web search engines were already launched like Infoseek, Webcrawler and Lycos in 1994, Altavista and Excite in 1995 and AskJeeves in 1996. But Google captured the market in just 4-5 years of it being launched, based upon the superior algorithms and search technology. Similarly, the Apple iPod has been able to capture the worldwide portable media player market over other players like Zen, Samsung, based on superior sound and storage quality.
Most technology companies, however, keep in mind the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. This led to the advent of efficient, faster but cheaper computer chips, memory cards, hard drives, mobile phones, computers, basically any piece of electronic equipment you can imagine today.
It has continued in the last century and is expected to hold true for quite sometime now. It will affect everything from wireless networks and undersea cable traffic to the amount of songs and videos you can store on your handheld.
Technology also forces existing leaders to change their business strategy. For instance, the mobile phone operators all over the world are shifting to IP technology because of its disruptive nature. While operators themselves have become ISPs, in India they are opposing the opening up of the domestic internet telephony as it will drop the prices of call rates drastically.