Gartner Blog Network

A sign that we are ripe for significant disruption

by Mark P. McDonald  |  June 15, 2011  |  2 Comments

The other day I was sitting in an airplane and overheard the people behind me talking about the iPad.  “Its just an oversized iPhone,” was the comment and the subject of the discussion.  The two were in violent agreement that the whole tablet phenomenon was just that a phenomenon.  The iPad or other tablets are not ‘real computers’ nor real business tools because they do not work the same as a PC.

I have heard something similar this is argument from a CIO who went on to point out that an X-ray of the iPad shows the same gear as the iPhone but with bigger batteries and a display.  This CIO said he would support it, but he rolled his eyes that the thought that this was a serious business platform.  “It doesn’t even have a directory structure,” was another charge leveled against the iPad.  Funny thing is that the cloud, which these guys were all in favor of, does not have an over directory structure either.

A while ago I mentioned that there would be a backlash to the iPad.  Despite the fact that millions have been sold and are now used everywhere from business to medicine to schools, etc. the backlash has settled in a strange place – comparing it to current computing models.

It is interesting that in both of these cases the people leveling the observation the people involved were well past their 45th birthdays.  People who are so vesting in the computing model of the recent past that they cannot see potential they only see novelty.  (I would argue we are already into a new style of computing)

This is one of the trigger points for a major disruption; see Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma framework.   Sure tablets are not the same as PC’s but that is the point – that is the basis for innovation – the source of the disruption.

Listening to that conversation I am reminded of 20 years ago when I was a programmer and I was hauling an IBM P70 ‘portable’ computer around with me.  The device weighted a ton, did not run on batteries and people scoffed calling it a luggable rather than a portable.  It did much of what a PC did; it just did it in a way that enabled me to cancel my gym membership.  People scoffed then, as they could not see the possibilities.  Those are the same people now scoffing at the tablet.

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Category: personal-observation  technology  

Tags: innovation  ipad  technology  technology-leadership  

Mark P. McDonald
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on A sign that we are ripe for significant disruption

  1. Gordon Folz says:

    Great comments and observations. I think the same can be said about the evolution from carbon paper to copiers and from fax to email. Changes in technology are in their nature to be “different”. It will not be long before people are saying, “how did we ever function before the tablet?” It may not be exclusively an iPad, but it will be a different devise than the PC is today.

  2. STARCHY says:

    old people are stupid (and I’m one of them)
    people always discount what they don’t understand or choose to ignore
    tablets are no exception

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.