The iPhone And The Camera Companies — 3 Lessons In Innovation

wsj.com

I love this chart. It perfectly illustrates three important lessons in innovation.

1. It’s merciless. The camera companies spent years building their brands, developing their products and investing in production and distribution. None of that mattered in the face of the smartphone revolution. And so, global camera shipments dropped almost 50% in just three years even though more photos were being taken than ever before.

2. It’s hard to anticipate. The camera companies probably didn’t take the smartphone threat seriously at first, and why should they have? The iPhone was expensive. Its camera wasn’t very good(1). And it only sold 1,4 million units in 2007, a fraction of the 101 million cameras shipped the same year(2). The first version of any new technology is seldom (never?) disruptive, and therefore easily underestimated. The first iPhone didn’t kill the camera business. But the industry that it spawned did.

3. It’s already here. The camera companies died in 2007, but it took six years for them to realize it. Companies tend to stare at the horizon, trying to anticipate new trends and technologies that might disrupt their businesses. But you don’t have to look to the future, you only need to look around you. Many fundamental shifts have already taken place, they just haven’t fully materialized yet. William Gibson said it perfectly: the future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.

Thanks for your 2 minutes!


Sources

(1) http://bgr.com/2015/09/09/iphone-camera-quality-evolution/

(2) https://www.statista.com/statistics/276306/global-apple-iphone-sales-since-fiscal-year-2007/