Turns out we’re getting a bit structure-heavy this week. Alas, this post by Ben Evans is too good to pass on, given that he uses Tesla as an anchor to look into some of the mechanics of industry usurpation.
The idea of ‘disruption’ is that a new concept changes the basis of competition in an industry. At the beginning, either the new thing itself or the companies bringing it (or both) tend to be bad at the things the incumbents value, and get laughed at, but they learn those things. Conversely, the incumbents either dismiss the new thing as pointless or presume they’ll easily be able to add it (or both), but they’re wrong. Apple brought software and learnt phones, whereas Nokia had great phones but could not learn software.
However, not every new technology or idea is disruptive. Some things do not change the basis of competition enough, and for some things the incumbents are able to learn and absorb the new concept instead
As it turns out, where something’s happening, and how you frame it, may be just as crucial (if not even more so) than just what’s happening.