Clayton Christensen said the iPhone will not succeed

This was one of the most shocking and provocative statements I heard at last weeks World Innovation Forum by HSM.

I think I might have even gasped when I heard him say that, but he wasn’t saying it just to be provocative. What he meant was that it could be successful as a product but the problem is there were plenty of existing competitors at the high end of the market that will not be welcoming to the innovation.

Why? It threatens their competitive space. Nokia, Samsung, LG and SonyEricsson have a lot to lose. You better believe that each of them have a skunk group dedicated to preparing a response to the iPhone. And since the iPhone is a high-end, high-cost product it leaves rivals an opportunity to create a more affordable version that’s almost as good.

So where’s the buzz? His theory is something that makes an incredible amount of sense but is often impossible for market leaders to do because they can’t fathom the idea of investing in a product that would be disruptive to their current product line.

Don’t miss my podcast with Clayton Christensen

Also check out Drew Neisser’s Marketing for Good’s blog who covered Renee Mauborgne, author of Blue Ocean Strategy presentation and his coverage of Whirlpool’s presentation on Innovation aptly called Whirlpool the Innovator?

6 comments to Clayton Christensen said the iPhone will not succeed

  • Douglas Karr

    How is success measured? If, at minimum, the iPhone introduces multi-touch display as advertised, it may be very successful.

    If success is simply measured by units sold and profitability – perhaps not.

    Apple has an incredible way of pushing the market and edging out competition through furious design, advertising, and very creative products.

    I am on both sides of the streets… I have a MacBookPro, AppleTV and iPods, but I have an HP laptop, multiple computers and a phone running Windows Mobile.

    I think the iPhone will be successful. At this point, a catastrophic failure will result in so much press that Apple will continue to own the ‘buzz’ market.

  • Paul Dunay

    Great Points Doug

    I think the issue also has roots in the Closed Architecture that usually accompanies most Apple products.

    Case in Point, I understand the iPhone will mandate you have an iTunes account for music downloads to the iPhone.

    Standards are good only when they are open standards

  • Paul Dunay

    Just found this on Slashdot

    SonyEricsson shows off Feature-Heavy Cell Phones

    “As if waiting until the end of the month for the iPhone wasn’t bad enough, Sony Ericsson has announced a set of super phones due to come out later this year. The Sony Ericsson K850i features an impressive 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and xenon flash, while the W960i comes with a whopping 8GB of on-board memory, stereo Bluetooth, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 3.2-megapixel camera. These were among several other new devices Ericsson unveiled recently, in hopes feature-heavy offerings will put it firmly back on the camera and music phone map.”

  • Paul Dunay

    From the Economist …

    Mr Jobs is usually attracted to devices that define new categories, rather than compete in large, pre-existing industries such as the handset business. But Mr Jobs knew that mobile phones were becoming music players, and thus rivals to the iPod, so entering the handset industry became a “defensive” imperative.

    Since he could not invent the category, Mr Jobs decided to reinvent it. He did this by making the iPhone not only a phone, but also a fully fledged iPod (“the best yet,” says Mr Jobs), as well as the first device that can really claim to bring the full internet into users’ pockets.

    PS – I emailed this to Clayton
    lets see if we get a response

  • Anthony Green

    Clayton has not considered the brand loyalty of Apple/i enthusiasts. People want to be associated with the brand and for that reason it will not fail.

  • Kimbakat

    Most likely it will be under Mac loyalists and built in sync with navigation to be the biggest draw..but the price is beyond an ipod for the 6-8 GB of space to hold the “wide array” of movies someone might want to travel with is a very low amount of drive space. My Video iPod is 60GB which also acts as a backup device for other files. I find the price to be the main factor here. It is what I use the most when I travel.

    Now everytime I hear and see the rumors printed that Apple will fail…just have to completely giggle, look at media and say..there they go again..reporting their lack of history knowledge. I can’t tell you how many times that was said back in 1997.

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