Archive for October, 2007

Disruptive Innovation

October 23, 2007

Do you live in the United States?

Do you own a cell phone?

Are you currently under, or have you ever been under, a cell phone contract?

If you answered yes to all three of those questions, do yourself a favor and read this article by Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal. Or if you don’t want to, or don’t have the time to read the article, just watch Walt’s video of it; the video is basically the same content.

The gist of what Walt is trying to say is this: the current state of cell phone service is broken. The cell phone carrier companies (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) have too much control. Here are three examples of the carriers’ having too much control.

1. When you become a customer to one of these carriers, you have to sign a long-term commitment, usually a 2-year commitment, which has pricey consequences if you choose to break it.

2. When you become a customer to one of these carriers, you have a small selection of phones to choose from, and each phone is provided by the carrier itself.

3. When you get that phone, you can barely customize the phone to your liking beyond choosing a color scheme and ringtone.

Mossberg gives a careful analogy between cell phones and computers, explaining that we don’t put up with the tight-grip of control when it comes to computer, television, or land-based telephone service (Would you ever consider buying a computer that let you customize the desktop wallpaper and the startup sound, but did NOT let you install any applications?).

So, America, why do we put up with this bullying? Most of you would probably answer, “I don’t have a choice. I have to give in to the companies.” And you’d be right. These companies have too much control. Mossberg writes that there are 2 ways to break the control. The first one is mostly beyond our control: government. If the government mandates a change, we will eventually be freed from the carriers’ grips, but that would take several years.

Walt’s second suggestion, however, is what I am interested in: Disruptive innovation. What is disruptive innovation? Let me paint you a picture.

Drivers: What happens when an accident causes a stretch of highway to shut down or slow to a halt? People find a different, faster route.

Music-lovers: What happens when CD prices become outrageous? People learn to share music over P2P networks for free.

Geeks: What happens when a router somewhere on the Internet goes down? Packets find another route that works.

Disruptive innovation is what happens when large numbers of people (or data packets :-D) are forced into something outrageously inconvenient. Disruptive innovation changes the status quo. It’s happened dozens of times in the past, and it will happen again.

I can hardly wait until it happens to the cell phone carriers.

I know that disruptive innovation will eventually cure this disease under which we currently live, but what can we do now? The only thing I can think of is to stop signing these commitments. I urge you, dear reader, not to sign any more contracts with the phone companies. They will try to convince you to upgrade your phone and renew a 2-year commitment but please don’t do it.

I created an online petition that you can sign. Click here. Please sign, tell your friends, and let’s get the disruption started. The sooner we put our foot down, the sooner we will be free.

Don’t Watch The Ex

October 11, 2007

You know that feeling you get when you finish watching a movie that was terrible? That I-just-wasted-two-hours-of-my-life feeling? Halfway through these movies, there’s usually a point where you say to yourself, “I should turn it off now and salvage what’s left of my evening.”

I just spent 89 minutes with that exact feeling. And I didn’t listen to the urges to hit stop on the DVD player.

I want to congratulate the writers David Guion and Michael Handelman. Your flick “The Ex” is now my most hated movie.

You can put The Ex into the same category as Meet the Parents, where the protagonist gets the ever loving crap beat out of him for the first 98% of the movie, and then during the last 2% you get a ridiculously unworthy excuse-for-a-resolution. I hate these movies. Movies like these are the reason I so rarely watch movies that I haven’t yet seen. I would have rather played Minesweeper for an hour and a half than sit through that crap.

I hope this blog post doesn’t encourage anyone to rent (or heaven-forbid buy) this movie.

I feel robbed.