I'm fascinated by disruptive forces. To be clear, it's not that I enjoy the sheer act of disruption. I just like the fact that disruption usually comes from accumulated frustration with the status quo. From users. Vendors. You name it. Take for instance the iPhone. Wired.com has an interesting piece that chronicles how the iPhone came to be. I found this part of the article to be most fascinating (even if obvious):

"For decades, wireless carriers have treated manufacturers like serfs, using access to their networks as leverage to dictate what phones will get made, how much they will cost, and what features will be available on them. Handsets were viewed largely as cheap, disposable lures, massively subsidized to snare subscribers and lock them into using the carriers' proprietary services. But the iPhone upsets that balance of power. Carriers are learning that the right phone — even a pricey one — can win customers and bring in revenue."

It broke the model and disrupted the status quo.

The same way a gadget can upset the balance of power, so can technology. For instance, consider carbon fiber. Limited to a select few as an exotic only a few years ago, real carbon parts are showing up everywhere, from race cars and common automotive parts to toilets to pencils. Although this disruption has happened more slowly, the path and impacts are the same. Users got tired of heavy, slow, costly, limited capabilities of steel, aluminum, polyester fabric, etc. and previously niche players with a little skill and effort coming out of nowhere to build amazing things. The "little guys" are now delivering "space age", high tech parts and solutions that go into next-gen planes. I'm working on a personal project using carbon and resin infusion. I stumbled across a local company with a history building gaming figures, models, and stage sets for the entertainment business. However, their biggest growth market today? CNC tooling and part fabrication for Aerospace. (guess what new plane is getting their work?)

In these and countless other fascinating examples, something comes along and upsets the apple cart. Reduced cost of operating that appear insanely low, increased performance to almost unimaginable levels, or newfound possibilities completely upset - or disrupt - the accepted ways of existing markets. The best part about this type of disruption - beyond giving the status quo the boots - is that customers, as well as partners and everyone related, benefit immensely. And, often in somewhat unpredictable ways. Those that jump onboard get huge returns

Think that users - or even app developers - of the iPhone have done things that have made their lives better in unexpectedly cool ways? Absolutely. (and, figure the iPhone has helped the "new AT&T" get back in the game?)

Think that fortunes have been made - on a global stage or at a local RC-model race track by folks applying carbon in a new way? Absolutely. (and that new companies are now growing as a result?)

Stay tuned.