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osOpinion: Free Software and the Innovator's Dilemma

Jan 17, 2001, 07:36 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Zedlewski)

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"If you wanted to assemble a "must read" list for any businessperson looking at the Linux/Free Software industry, what would you include? Certainly "Open Sources" from O'Reilly, is the most obvious answer, probably followed by Bob Young's upcoming "Under the Radar," which details the story of Red Hat's rise."

"But I would argue that a third book belong in the top tier of that list as well: "The Innovator's Dilemma," written by Clayton Christensen and published by Harvard Business School Press...."

"In almost every case, he claims, established industry leaders were managed well, by conventional standards. They listened to their customer base and constantly sought to increase their penetration in high-margin, high-end markets. These seemingly innocuous strategies become disastrous, however, when a "disruptive technology" enters the low end of the market...."

"Specifically, I want to focus on Linux, which might be the best example of a truly disruptive technology that we've seen since the advent of the Internet. The Innovator's Dilemma theory gives us a guide to understand how established software firms risk missing the boat with respect to Linux, just as brick-and-mortar retailers were overtaken on the Net by smaller, more daring startups."

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